If an accident or illness leaves you or one of your dependents unable to work, you have many options for claiming disability benefits from government agencies and private insurers. The Columbus, Ohio, disability lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman may be able to help you navigate the application and appeals processes for each of the programs described briefly below.

Please visit this webpage if you have questions regarding Veterans Affairs disability claims. Our disability attorneys can help you understand how receiving VA benefits may affect your eligibility for and payments from other programs, but we do not handle VA cases directly.

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is primarily available to American-born children younger than 18 and to U.S. citizens who have made contributions to Social Security by having money withheld from their paychecks. The minimum criteria for qualifying to receive Social Security Disability Insurance are:

  • Diagnosis of a physical, psychological, or mental condition that makes working enough to support yourself impossible
  • Evidence that the disabling condition has or will persist for at least one year or prove fatal in a short period
  • Proof that no other Social Security benefits are currently being received

SSDI payments generally arrive monthly. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, can be approved separately for people who have great need and very few financial resources such as savings, investments, family contributions, and real estate.

Ohio Workers’ Compensation

Qualifying for workers’ compensation requires getting injured or sick while doing one’s job. Also, your employer or you must have made contributions to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation program.

A two-year statute of limitations applies to most workers’ comp claims, though the clock on illness-related claims may not start ticking until a confirmed diagnosis is received. Also, the disabling condition must be clearly related to the beneficiary’s duties as an employee and be incurred while complying with all applicable work rules and procedures. For example, a crash in a company vehicle is generally cover able under workers’ comp, but a crash in your own car while commuting home at the end of the workday generally is not. Employers often contest workers’ comp claims on the grounds that an applicant took unnecessary and unapproved risks.

Ohio Workers’ Compensation is intended to be temporary. Participation in physical and occupational therapy is usually required, and a return to work is encouraged. Monthly payments are indexed to the recipient’s earnings at the time of the disabling incident. One-time payments and lump sum settlements may also be available, especially for a catastrophic injury like an amputation or blinding.

Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

OPERS replaces Social Security as the retirement and disability program for state and local government workers in Ohio. The program is open to most elected officials, agency employees, city and town employees, and teaching and research faculty at state universities.

Holding jobs outside government complicates OPERS disability eligibility because SSDI is considered the primary benefits program. Another basic consideration for OPERS disability is that eligibility requires 60 months (5 years) of consecutive contributions from payroll. Consulting with a Columbus disability lawyer before starting the federal or state disability benefits application process is a good idea.

OPERS disability benefits are based on service tenure, ending salary, need, and the date on which one began working for a government organization. Most physical conditions that leave someone unable to work can qualify as a disabling condition, but the application process must start before a beneficiary turns 62.

State Teachers Retirement System and School Employees Retirement System

STRS is the equivalent of the state government retirement and disability programs for K-12 public school teachers and school administrators. SERS covers public school support personnel such as bus drivers, maintenance workers, full-time coaches, and counselors. Both programs operate under rules similar to those for OPERS, with the principal one being that Social Security Disability Insurance should be the first option for Ohioans with long-term disabilities who have worked outside a school system.

Private Disability Insurance

You can purchase your own short- and long-term insurance policies. Disabling injuries and illnesses can also be covered under property, car, health, and long-term care policies. Each policy will have its own rules regarding eligibility, filing for and substantiating claims, and collecting benefits. If you find yourself needing to seek disability payment from your own insurer or the insurance company for another driver, employer, homeowner, or business, consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable Columbus, OH, disability lawyer can protect you from an unjustified denial or inadequate settlement.

Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman offers no-cost consultations on applying for and appealing denials of disability benefits. Let us know if we can help you by calling (800) 678-3318 or using this form to schedule an appointment.