Qualifying for Social Security Disability After a Car Accident

social security disability after car accidentIn some car accidents, you may be injured so severely that you are unable to return to work for an extended period of time. In these situations, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits to help cover costs associated with your injury. The Appleton Social Security Disability lawyers from our firm are prepared to review your claim and determine if you may be eligible to pursue benefits due to your accident in a free consultation.

SSA’s Determination of a Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) focuses on how your injury affects your ability to work, not how the injury occurred. Therefore, your claim will not automatically be approved or denied simply because it stems from a car accident.

To meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled,” you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Your condition is severe and greatly impedes your ability to perform basic work tasks
  • The condition significantly affects your ability to perform work for at least one year or is terminal in nature
  • Your condition is listed in SSA’s Listing of Impairments or the SSA otherwise determines you are disabled
  • Your condition prevents you from performing any work you have performed in the past or other work at certain exertional levels depending on your age.

You must have also obtained sufficient work credits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or meet income and asset guidelines for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For most SSDI claimants, the requirement is to have 40 work credits, with at least half of them being obtained within the past decade.

Car Accident Injuries That May Qualify for Benefits

Certain injuries caused by a car accident that may qualify for disability benefits include:

  • Whiplash – Whiplash is a common injury that occurs in car accidents. If your MRI shows visible spinal and/or neck injuries, you may qualify for benefits.
  • Fractures – If a broken bone impedes your ability to work, you might be eligible for benefits.
  • Back injuries – Car accidents often aggravate pre-existing back injuries. They may cause conditions such as spinal cord injuries, nerve root compression or lumbar spinal stenosis.
  • Traumatic brain injuries – Car accident victims may hit the steering wheel, dashboard or side of the vehicle, which may lead to traumatic brain injuries severely limiting their ability to function.
  • Burns – Severe burns from burning cars or explosions may seriously impact your ability to work.

What If My Injury is Not Listed?

If your injury is not on the list, the SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether there is any type of work that you can perform. Your treating doctor can prepare your RFC form, or the SSA may send you to a doctor specifically to complete this form.

During this process, the SSA reviews your medical records and determines the side effects of treatment, how much you have recovered and whether any medications affect your symptoms or ability to work. Additionally, they will ask the doctor if you have complied with all of your doctor’s orders and what limitations he or she believes impair your ability to work.

The SSA will assess your ability to perform basic physical and work tasks and then assign you with an RFC of heavy, medium, light or sedentary work. In most cases, you must receive an RFC of less than sedentary work to be considered disabled unless you are over 55 and cannot transfer to a new type of work due to the lack of job skills.

Contact Our Legal Team for Help

After a serious car accident, it is important that you are able to focus on your health, not on figuring out how you will pay for your bills. The legal team at Sigman Janssen is prepared to assist you with applying for disability benefits or filing an appeal if denied.

Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you do not have to pay anything upfront. You only pay us for our legal services if we help you recover benefits.

Contact us today at (877) 888-5201 to schedule your free consultation.