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Government Benefits for Disabled Workers

The social security insurance that covers most private workers includes a component that covers most kinds of disability, whatever the origin of the problem and whatever the age of the worker. Unlike most forms of private disability insurance, the spouse and children of a disabled worker may be entitled to benefits such as educational stipends. The disabled worker must apply to the Social Security Administration for benefits. There are specific forms that must be filled out by the health care providers, and the claimant's medical records must be made available. A worker denied benefits can follow a standard appeals process. It is important for the physician to work with the patient in getting through this system. Patients have the right to expect that their physicians will not add to the burden of dealing with the social security system.

Occupational physicians should be aware of the state and federal programs for injured or disabled workers in certain industries. The black lung program for miners is an example. In general, these programs require special evaluations for an individual to become eligible for benefits. If physicians must evaluate patients with a problem covered by one of these programs, they should consult with an attorney or occupational medicine physician who is experienced with the program.

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