United Spinal Association and Allsup, a nationwide provider of and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation and veterans disability appeals, highlight assistance and resources for those living with SCI during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month in September.
About 200,000 Americans live with a spinal cord injury (SCI), and up to 20,000 new spinal cord injuries occur each year, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC reports that the average annual medical cost for individuals with SCI is $15,000–$30,000, with an estimated lifetime cost of $500,000 to more than $3 million, depending on the severity of the injury.
“People often associate spinal cord injuries with paralysis and loss of limb function,” said Paul J. Tobin, president & CEO of United Spinal Association. “However, traumatic injury to the spinal cord can affect the respiratory, urinary and gastrointestinal systems as well. There are also the psychological effects of SCI, such as depression and anxiety.”
These conditions often require considerable time in physical therapy, rehabilitation and vocational training before an individual can return to work. If a person with SCI expects to be out of work for at least 12 months, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
SSDI is a federally mandated disability insurance program employers and employees pay for through payroll (FICA) taxes. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals under full retirement age who can no longer work because of a severe disability. They qualify for Medicare 24 months after their SSDI eligibility date. However, obtaining SSDI benefits is not easy. More than two-thirds of initial applications are denied.
“As soon as you know you have a medical condition that will keep you from doing any work for at least 12 months, you should apply for SSDI,” said Edward Swierczek, Allsup senior claimant representative. “Let your treating physicians know you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and ask for their support.
“Be prepared for the SSA to tell you that you can do ‘other’ work if you have a significant impairment that precludes your past work and you are under age 50.”
Despite high unemployment rates among people with disabilities, about a third of people with spinal cord injuries continue to work.
“Being an active member of the workforce is part of our identity and helps define our role in American culture. It is important for people to know that despite severe disabilities, people can re-enter the workforce and put themselves on the path to economic independence,” said Tobin.
“United Spinal Association is committed to ensuring that people with spinal cord injuries and disorders are educated about work opportunities afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the wide range of programs and services that enable our members to reach their employment goals,” he added.
To learn more about United Spinal Association’s programs and services visit UnitedSpinal.org.
For more information on SSDI and a free eligibility screening, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (888) 841-2126 or visit Expert.Allsup.com for a free SSDI evaluation.