The Maze of Disability Benefit Programs: Social Security Disability, Workers’ Compensation, and Private Disability Insurance
Impaired persons in the United States who cannot work and seek benefits to which they are entitled by law or by contract quickly learn that a compassionate, comprehensive system of accessing such assistance does not exist. Although as a society we share a loose consensus that those who cannot work due to illness or impairment should receive disability compensation, no agreement on the definition and measurement of disability exists and we are reluctant to give people money for not working. When asked to support workers who claim to be disabled, rather than conjuring an image of Studs Terkel’s gritty American worker, they may imagine Maynard G. Krebs, the able-bodied beatnik who was allergic to work. Neither public agencies nor private insurance companies make it easy to successfully file a disability claim, particularly for psychiatric illness.