Can I Get Disability Benefits After a Car Accident?

Car accidents are sometimes so devastating that they cause injuries and impairments the victims struggle with for the rest of their lives. Many of these people can no longer perform their previous job duties, forcing them to quit working. They face mounting medical bills and no income.

If you cannot work because of your accident injuries and are considering alternative ways to ensure your family’s bills get paid, Social Security Disability (SSD) may be a viable option. Our lawyers can help you determine if your work history and current limitations and prognosis qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or can file an appeal if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your claim. Call the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC today at 865-546-1111 to find out if you qualify for disability benefits after a car accident.

>How long do I have to be out of work to qualify for disability?

In order to qualify for SSD benefits, your car accident injuries must cause a long-term disability. Any injuries or impairments must last a year or more for you to qualify.

A broken arm, for example, will likely heal in a few months’ time, after which you can return to work. This type of quick-healing injury is unlikely to cause a long-term impairment. However, imagine you suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused you to lose strength and motor control in your arm. Your doctor believes you will require months of rehabilitation and are unlikely to ever regain full use of your arm and hand. This type of long-term impairment may qualify you for disability programs such as SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

It is important to note a few states do have disability programs for those with short-term disabilities or you may have short-term disability coverage available through your company’s benefits plan. These are options worth pursuing, even if you believe you may qualify for SSDI, since the federal long-term disability program requires a five-month waiting period before benefits begin. Are my car accident injuries serious enough to qualify me for disability?

The SSA publishes a book of impairment listings that qualify for SSD programs. These listings describe medical conditions that affect a variety of bodily systems. If the SSA includes your injury or impairment in this list, you meet all the criteria listed for your type of injury, and you can prove this with your medical records, you are potentially eligible for benefits.

For example, if you lost a leg in the crash, the listing for amputation indicates you can qualify for benefits if your medical records show you suffer from complications that make it impossible to use a prosthetic device for at least 12 months.

Some types of car accident injuries are more difficult to prove than others. Whiplash is notoriously difficult to prove because this type of soft tissue injury is not always apparent on imaging scans. There is little evidence for your doctor to base a diagnosis on, besides your reports of pain and limited range of motion.

Even anxiety or PTSD stemming from a car crash could be severe enough to qualify you for disability. However, you will want to work closely with your psychiatrist to ensure your impairments are well-documented, because these types of psychological conditions are difficult to prove.

>Can I qualify even if my accident injuries do not meet the criteria in the impairment listings?

You do not have to meet the exact criteria under the related impairment listing to qualify for SSD benefits. In many cases, a person suffers numerous injuries to different body systems in a car accident, and it is only together that these impairments lead to a serious disability. The SSA understands this, and offers another way to qualify for benefits.

Known as Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), the SSA grades your abilities based on the maximum amount of work your impairments allow. For example, if you lost a leg and also suffered a brain injury that makes it difficult to keep your balance, it may be impossible for you to walk safely. Your RFC might qualify you for benefits, even if neither of your injuries were serious enough to cause a serious disability on their own.

>How can I increase the odds that the SSA approves my claim?

You can help your chances of qualifying for SSD benefits by talking about your intent to apply with your doctor. Because you need to present solid evidence proving you suffer from a disabling impairment, it is imperative your doctor notes all possible limitations in your medical records. If your doctor knows you need these benefits, they can ensure they do all the necessary imaging scans and run all possible tests to confirm your condition.

Once you request your medical records and begin compiling evidence to support your claim, you should schedule a time to discuss your application with a knowledgeable disability lawyer. Our attorneys can look over your claim and review the supporting evidence before you apply. Because we know what the SSA is looking for in a qualifying application, we can tell you whether or not you have adequate documentation of your impairments.

>How can I speak to a disability lawyer?

While it is possible to get disability benefits after a car accident, gaining approval is not always easy. If you are unsure of where to start in the application process or if the SSA denied your claim, contact the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC. We can review your claim before you file or help you navigate the appeals process. Call us today at 865-546-1111 to learn more about how we can help you secure the benefits you deserve after a car crash.