Many people struggle financially after being injured a car accident. For some, a personal injury lawsuit is a good option to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may also be possible.
Disability after a car accident depends upon a number of factors. Talking to an experienced SSD attorney can help you learn what avenues of compensation are open to you based on the facts of your case.
Contact a trusted South Carolina SSD attorney at Land, Parker, & Welch, P.A. today for a free consultation. We can help you apply for disability and assist with appeals if you’ve already received a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Let us fight to improve your quality of life. Call or contact us right away.
Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability After a Car Accident?
The circumstances of how you were injured is not important when determining if you can receive SSD benefits. The key question is whether your car accident injuries meet the SSA’s criteria for disability.
These requirements include:
- Can you do the work you did before the injury?
- Can your work duties be adjusted so that you can continue to work?
- Is the disability expected to last one year or longer?
Keep in mind that SSD benefits are only available for total disability. It’s assumed that working families can receive financial support for short-term or partial disabilities through workers’ compensation, insurance, savings and/or investments.
How Long Do You Have to Work to Receive SSD Benefits?
Meeting the definition of disability is not the only requirement to qualify for SSD. Only people who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes can obtain benefits.
When you work a job that pays into the Social Security system, you accrue work credits. These credits are based the amount you earn in weekly wages or self-employment income.
Work credits determine your eligibility for Social Security benefits, including disability. You need 40 work credits, or roughly the equivalent of 10 years of work, to qualify. You can earn up to four credits per year.
In some cases, younger workers who become disabled still may qualify for SSD benefits even if they do not have a total of 40 work credits.
Disability Determination Process
Applying for SSD is a complicated process with a detailed application and review procedure. Decisions are made by evaluating your medical condition and seeing how it is preventing you from earning a living wage.
The SSA has a five-step process for evaluating claims:
- Are you working? Those who are able to earn enough income to be considered substantially and gainfully employed are unable to receive benefits. The qualifying amount is adjusted annually and can be found here.
- Is the medical condition severe? Examiners will look at whether your injury limits your ability to perform basic tasks such as speaking, walking, sitting or remembering. If it does, they move on to the following step.
- Is your disability on the SSA’s list of qualifying impairments? The SSA has a manual —called the Blue Book — that details more than 100 conditions that could qualify an applicant for disability if certain criteria are met.
- Can you do similar work that you did before the car accident? Looking at your employment history and medical condition, the reviewer will decide whether your injuries prevent you from returning to previous work.
- Are you able to do other forms of work? Your injury may prevent you from staying in the same line of work, but perhaps not from adjusting to another type of job. An DDS examiner will assess this by looking at your age, education, past work experience and if there are any transferable skills.
It can take several months for an applicant to learn whether they have been approved or denied SSD benefits. Up to 70 percent of applications result in denials. For this reason, it’s smart to consult with one of our experienced lawyers to ensure that your SSD application is filed with all of the appropriate documentation the first time.
Determining Your Residual Functional Capacity
If you are able to return to work in a limited capacity after a car accident, the SSA will need to determine exactly how much you can do given your current limitations. This is called your residual functional capacity (RFC).
A medical consultant performs an RFC assessment to evaluate the type of exertion you can withstand and what job restrictions may be necessary. If the SSA determines that you cannot do your past relevant work, the assessment can be used to determine if there is any job that you can do. If so, your disability will be considered partial and you will not qualify for SSD.
Because the results of an RFC assessment can make or break your ability to access SSD benefits, reach out to skilled lawyers Land, Parker, & Welch P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your next steps.
Car Accident Injuries That Qualify for SSD Benefits
Car accidents can result in countless types of disabling injuries. The SSA Blue Book breaks down qualifying disorders by body system. Examples of injuries that may qualify include:
- Musculoskeletal system disorders
- Neurological injuries
- Back disorders
- Anxiety disorders
If your condition is not in the Blue Book, the DDS examiner must decide if it is as severe as other disabling conditions that are included in the listing of impairments. It’s a good idea to contact a South Carolina attorney at Land, Parker, & Welch P.A. to discuss the unique nature of your condition and how it is impacting your life before applying for SSD benefits.
Musculoskeletal System Disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders involve damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Strains and sprains are common musculoskeletal injuries after a car accident, but the injuries can also be much more severe and with lasting consequences. These include:
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Spinal cord injuries
A major musculoskeletal system disorder must result in a loss of function for a person to be eligible for SSD benefits.
Back pain is a common musculoskeletal injury after a car accident. If a back disorder makes it impossible for you to perform your job duties, you may have a valid SSD claim. While spinal cord injuries are considered the worst form of back trauma, many other back injuries may also qualify you for SSD benefits after a crash.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Certain types of soft tissue injuries can result in SSD eligibility. Typically, the injuries must be “under continuing surgical management” and result in a serious limitation that is expected to last for at least one year, according to the Blue Book.
Burns are a particularly disabling form of soft tissue injury. In serious car wrecks involving fires, a vehicle occupant may sustain severe burns that require ongoing skin grafts, infection prevention efforts and long-term pain management.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a common and chronic injury in car accident cases. If your anxiety disorder meets the Blue Book criteria, you may qualify for SSDI benefits.
Get Help with Your Social Security Disability Claim
Life is never the same for those who are disabled after a car accident. If you were injured in a crash and are no longer able to work, obtaining Social Security Disability benefits can be the lifeline you need to regain a sense of financial stability.
Unfortunately, the path to disability benefits is not always clear. If you’re struggling, the South Carolina SSD lawyers at Land, Parker, & Welch P.A. can assist you. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help ensure that your application for benefits is complete so that examiners get a clear understanding of your disability and how it is impacting your life.