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Navigating South Dakota disability rights as an employee

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Social Security Disability

disability rights south dakota disability benefits south dakota

If you cannot work because of an injury, illness or medical condition, you may qualify for South Dakota disability benefits. These benefits can give you monetary help and access to financial resources. Living with a disability often means higher medical costs, mobility issues and lost income. Disability benefits help cover these extra expenses and challenges.

Understanding and applying for disability benefits can be tricky. This is especially true since you are already dealing with daily difficulties from your condition. But you do not have to go through this alone. This guide explains what counts as a disability, how to apply for benefits and what your disability rights are in South Dakota. It will also teach you how to appeal in case of initial denials.

What qualifies as a disability?

A disability is a physical or mental condition that makes it very hard to do everyday activities, such as:

  • Walking
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Working
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Eating

Simple everyday tasks can become difficult with a disabling condition. Unfortunately, not every disability automatically qualifies for state and federal benefits. There are rules for programs such as workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Short-term or partial disabilities that only temporarily limit you typically are not eligible. Most programs only provide benefits for long-term disabilities.

To qualify as long-term, the disability must be a permanent or chronic condition expected to last 12 months or longer. In addition to this requirement, you must prove that your condition prevents you from keeping a job and earning a living wage. This must be supported by evidence.

Your work-related disability rights

South Dakota and other states have laws that prevent employers from treating disabled employees unfairly. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of those laws. As a permanently disabled employee, it is understandable that you need work adjustments so that you can do your main duties easily. Just like other employees, it is your right to work without difficulties.

Employers must accommodate any of these requests as long as they are within reason. Reasonable accommodations include:

  • Special equipment
  • Different or fewer tasks
  • interpreters or readers
  • Accessible job site
  • Medical leave

Employers cannot fire, demote or harass you because of your needs as a disabled employee. If this happens, you can file a complaint with the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation Division of Human Rights (SDDHR). You should explain in the complaint how your employer violated your rights.

Another option is to seek help from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints and enforces employment laws.

Filing a discrimination complaint can be complicated. The process involves gathering evidence and potentially going to court. So, you may want to talk to a disability rights lawyer in South Dakota. A lawyer can represent you and protect your rights when dealing with your employer or government agencies.

How to apply for disability benefits after a work injury or illness?

How you apply for disability benefits depends on where you seek support. In South Dakota, the main sources are:

  • Workers’ comp: If your disability is job-related, you may get workers’ comp benefits. You must immediately notify your employer, file a claim and show medical proof. Follow the state’s workers’ comp rules.
  • qualifications how to apply for disability in south dakota short term long termPrivate disability insurance: Some employers offer private short-term or long-term disability policies. You can file a claim directly with your company’s private insurer and follow their guidelines. To successfully apply for this type of insurance, you need to provide detailed medical records from your health care providers to prove your disability prevents you from working.
  • Social Security disability: For long-term or permanent disabilities, you may qualify for SSDI. You must meet their definition of disability and work credit requirements. You file an application with Social Security and provide medical records. An SSDI lawyer near you can assist in this legal process.

In all three processes, you must provide the needed documents. Generally, applying for benefits requires submitting the following:

  • Medical records about your condition, treatments, limitations and inability to work
  • Employment records proving your work history, job duties and income
  • Completed claim forms and any other paperwork the program needs

Submit your completed application and documents to the appropriate agency or insurer. Be ready for additional medical exams. They may request more evaluations to verify the extent of your work-related disability and limitations.

How to appeal denied disability benefits and qualifications?

If you meet the long-term disability requirement, but your disability benefits are still denied, you can start an appeal. An appeal can overturn the denial if you provide strong supporting evidence. To improve your chances, submit additional documents. Medical proof, for example, can help show how you meet the qualifications for benefits.

During the appeals process, you will attend a hearing before a disability judge. Let the judge know you have a long-term disability and meet qualifications. Present your medical records and witness statements there. Legal representation from a reliable disability denial attorney in South Dakota can help improve your chances.

Do not give up on your disability rights

You have just as much right to benefits as anyone else. The process is complicated, but that should not stop you from applying for the permanent disability benefits you need. In fact, continuing to appeal after initial denials is often necessary to finally get approved. If you are facing rejection or pushback, do not hesitate to reach out to a legal professional for assistance protecting your rights.

Disability denial attorneys know how disability laws and the approval process work. They can review your file, get more evidence and prepare you for the hearing. They can also argue why you qualify based on proof. Many legal professionals work on contingency. This means you do not pay attorney fees unless you get disability benefits.

No matter your situation, it is important to understand your rights to disability benefits in South Dakota. Do not give up until you get the support you need.