In the realm of employment and health, navigating the intricacies of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a complex journey. Understanding the nuances of each can empower individuals facing health challenges with the knowledge to secure their employment and financial future. Many people wonder about the differences between FMLA and SSDI and ask the question, “Can I apply for disability while on FMLA”? 


Understanding FMLA

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that enables eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. This act allows for up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for such circumstances as the birth of a child, adoption, personal or family illness, or to care for an ill family member. The primary purpose of FMLA is to provide employees with the assurance that their job will be waiting for them upon their return from leave, without fear of retaliation or job loss.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Explained

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is a program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) designed to provide income to people who are restricted in their ability to be employed because of a severe disability. SSDI requires a rigorous application process where the applicant must prove that their disability is severe enough to prevent them from working full-time, and it is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

When FMLA and SSDI Intersect

There are instances where an individual can take FMLA leave and also qualify for SSDI benefits. This typically occurs when a person’s medical condition is so severe that it not only necessitates a temporary leave from work but also meets the SSA’s definition of disability. In such cases, FMLA can serve as a critical bridge, providing job protection while the individual navigates the SSDI application process. However, it’s important to note that being on FMLA might signal to the SSA that the applicant intends to return to work, potentially complicating the SSDI application process.

Enhancing Your SSDI Application While on FMLA

There are several things you can do to improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits while on FMLA. 

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

One of the most effective ways to strengthen your SSDI application is to have regular consultations with your doctor. Medical evidence is paramount in SSDI applications, and a consistent record of your condition, treatments, and the impact on your ability to work can be invaluable.

Keep Detailed Records

Alongside medical records, keeping a detailed account of how your condition affects your daily life and work can provide a compelling narrative for your SSDI application. Documenting your symptoms, limitations, and any work adjustments or accommodations you’ve needed can help illustrate the severity of your condition.

Hire a Disability Attorney

Navigating the SSDI application process can be daunting, especially while dealing with a significant medical condition. Hiring a disability attorney can significantly improve your chances of approval. An experienced attorney can help you gather the necessary documentation, fill out the application accurately, and represent you in appeals, if necessary.

Get Help from the Disability Attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill

For individuals out on FMLA due to a disability and considering applying for SSDI, the disability attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill offer free consultations. We can provide guidance on timing your application, ensuring your medical documentation is sufficient, and advocating on your behalf throughout the application process. Understanding the nuances of each and taking strategic steps can enhance your chances of securing SSDI benefits while on FMLA. Let the attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill help you navigate this complex process so you can find peace of mind and financial stability when it’s needed most.