Everyone I know was shocked by the recent story by Molly Parker in The Southern Illinoisan newspaper explaining that many coal miners and their families will lose promised health insurance benefits because Alpha Natural Resources has declared bankruptcy. For those miners who are not yet 65 and are unable to work full time due to health issues, there is a ray of hope: A worker can qualify for Medicare before age 65 if he files a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and is approved.
As a Southern Illinois disability attorney, here are three things I would like coal mining families to know:
1. Workers can qualify for Medicare as early as 12 months after filing a Social Security Disability Insurance claim.
If a worker has not been physically able to perform his past job or any other full time job for 17 months or more, if he files a Social Security Disability Insurance claim and it is approved, his earliest Social Security benefit month will be 12 months before the filing month, and his earliest Medicare entitlement month will be 12 months after the filing month.
2. Workers can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits after age 55 in some instances even if they could still perform light work.
Even if a worker could perform a “light” job, if his past work involved “medium”, “heavy” or “very heavy” exertion, and if skills from the past job do not transfer to sedentary or light work, he can still be found eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits because he is not expected to make a vocational adjustment. The Social Security regulations acknowledge that coal miners over age 55 aren’t likely to become administrative assistants or clerical workers. Here is a description of how Social Security defines jobs by exertion level.
3. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are NOT welfare - they are INSURANCE!
Coal miners are proud, self-reliant people who have worked very hard in dangerous environments to provide for their families without using public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, or subsidized housing. They might not realize that a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits is an INSURANCE claim, not a request for a handout. They EARNED IT!
My earlier blog articles and downloadable e-Book were written to help workers and their families make the right decision at the right time when illness or injury interferes with work. As a Southern Illinois Social Security Disability attorney, I hope this information will offer a ray of hope to these families who have been so important to the Southern Illinois region.
If you're looking for a Southern Illinois Social Security Disability representative to help you with your claim, click here.
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