Many injuries are a simple matter of time and care before people are feeling better. People may need to take some time off work, but they can look forward to returning in the same position once they have recovered. But major injuries, such as trauma to the brain or the spinal cord, may result in a permanent condition.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) can, in some ways, act as an insurer for long-term disability when people have worked for a certain amount of time before the condition began. People are eligible for disability insurance benefits from the SSA if they meet the definition of disability and they have paid FICA taxes for five of the last 10 previous years.

Disability insurance benefits are based on the contributions through FICA, and therefore, are related to earnings. There is also an monthly cap on benefits per person regardless of earnings level. Benefits cannot be paid at any time that someone did not meet the definition of disability or for more than a year before the date of a person’s application.

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