Can I qualify for disability benefits if I’ve been injured in a vehicle accident?
Car accidents are expensive. Damage to your vehicle and medical bills can cause severe financial strain, as well as take a huge toll on your nerves. Insurance may cover some of the costs, but if you are injured and cannot return to your job for several months, you may be without needed income for a while.
Can you get Social Security Disability benefits if you are disabled in a car accident? The short answer is “possibly” – it depends on the type and severity of your injury and whether you meet Social Security’s other eligibility requirements.
Regardless of how you sustain an injury, in order to be eligible for SSDI you must first satisfy Social Security’s basic requirements:
- You must have a physical or mental impairment that has lasted 12 months or is expected to last 12 months;
- You must not be working in a job and earning income over Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is $1220 in 2019; and
- You cannot perform your current job or be trained to do other work.
Many serious injuries suffered by people in vehicle accidents qualify for SSDI.
The Social Security Administration lists specific disabling impairments under which individuals can qualify for SSDI in its Blue Book. The most common injuries resulting from car accidents that meet Social Security’s impairment criteria are musculoskeletal: injuries that damage bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons and cause problems with movement and motor skills.
Those injuries include:
- Bone fractures
- Severe burns
- Spine and spinal cord injuries
- Joint injuries
- Amputation of limbs
Traumatic brain injuries, neurological disorders, vison and hearing impairments, and even PTSD may also qualify.
If your injury matches any of the impairment listings in Social Security’s Blue Book, chances are good that you will qualify for disability benefits.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering injuries received from a vehicle accident. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Though many injuries sustained in car accidents prevent people from returning to work, some injuries are less likely than others to be approved for benefits.
For example, you break your arm in a car accident and you will not be able to return to your job where you are required to lift heavy boxes. You would not be approved for benefits because the fracture will probably heal in a few months. But, if you break your arm and the fracture does not heal properly within 12 months, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Another example is whiplash. It’s not impossible to qualify for benefits with whiplash, but it is very difficult to do so because the majority of cases heal within six months. Additionally, whiplash is a soft tissue injury and often does not show up on imaging tests. Without solid medical evidence you would not be able to prove the impairment; the spinal or neck injury must be visible on an MRI in order to be eligible for benefits.
If your injury is not specifically listed in Social Security’s Blue Book, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your injury is medically equivalent to one of Social Security’s listed impairments.
“Medically equivalent” means equal in severity and duration to the criteria of any listed impairment. In such cases, the applicant is found to be as disabled as a person who does meet the listing criteria.
The Social Security Administration allows individuals to equal a listing under certain circumstances:
- Your injury is considered as an impairment, but you do not meet the specific criteria of the listing. If you have medical issues related or similar to the listed impairment, you may equal the listing.
- Your injury is not listed as an impairment, but your limitations and symptoms are similar to one of the listed impairments. If your injury is medically equivalent to another impairment, you may qualify.
- You have a combination of impairments, but none of them meet an impairment listing individually. Social Security will consider listings similar to your medical condition and if the combined impact of your impairments is medically equal to Social Security’s listings, you may equal a listing.
To equal a listing, you will need to prove to Social Security how and why your injury equals a listing.
You must provide medical records, results of tests, and doctors’ statements. If your doctor believes the limitations caused by your injury are as disabling as those of a particular listing, Social Security will give substantial weight to your doctor’s opinion – provided it is backed up by medical evidence. Your doctor should give details in writing of how your injury limits your functionality as much as if you met the listing requirements exactly.
It is very difficult for an applicant to prove their medical condition equals an impairment listing without the assistance of an attorney.
A qualified disability attorney is familiar with all of Social Security’s Blue Book listings. By working with your doctor, a disability lawyer can determine which listing your impairment might equal. An attorney can gather the supporting evidence needed and write convincing briefs to prove your case to Social Security. If you have been injured in a vehicle accident and you are unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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