Being involved in an injury accident can be debilitating, whether it’s a motor vehicle collision or a work-related accident. You may have long-term injuries and cannot return to work temporarily or maybe permanently.
What happens if you cannot return to work and are disabled? Can you collect Social Security for injuries? In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits for your injuries. Speak with an experienced Louisville Social Security disability benefits lawyer to learn more.
Around ten million people receive Social Security disability benefits. Most recipients are disabled workers, followed by disabled adult children and disabled widow(er)s. Here is what you need to know about obtaining Social Security for an injury.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you hope to apply for disability benefits through Social Security, you must have a qualifying disability. Some conditions “automatically” qualify you for benefits. Essentially, the Social Security Administration (SSA) acknowledges these conditions meet the definition of disability. You must also meet the requirement of paying Social Security taxes in the past.
Medically Determinable Impairment
For anyone applying for Social Security disability benefits, your injury must meet the definition of a disability. The SSA defines disability as “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
The SSA defines a medically determinable physical or mental impairment as one that develops from “anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” You must present medical evidence that shows you have a physical or mental impairment. Merely submitting a statement about your symptoms won’t suffice as the necessary evidence to collect Social Security for injuries. If your medical sources aren’t enough, the SSA may contact them for additional information or ask you to submit to a consultative exam (CE).
Social Security Blue Book’s List of Impairments
The Social Security Blue Book has qualifying impairments split into categories representing various diseases or disorders for adults and children. The distinction is that examiners review the effects of a condition differently if the victim is over or under 18. Examples of some categories include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders—spinal disorders, amputation, chronic joint pain;
- Congenital disorders—disorders that affect different parts of the body, such as Down syndrome;
- Neurological disorders—traumatic brain injuries and conditions such as Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and ALS; and
- Mental Disorders—depression, dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.
The child section of the SSA Blue Book has the same categories and a special category for low birth weight and failure to thrive.
If your condition doesn’t qualify under the Blue Book categories, you may still be able to ask for consideration under a vocational medical allowance. In this situation, the SSA will review your disability and how it affects your ability to function on the job and perform everyday activities. This application may require you to undergo a consultative exam (CE).
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online, which is the best option for many applicants. However, if you have questions or need to ask about a residual functional capacity evaluation, you are better off applying in person at a local Social Security office. You will need to make an appointment and bring copies of all your medical documentation. In-person services may be limited due to COVID-19, so you will need to check the SSA’s coronavirus page for the latest updates.
You must submit all documentation and evidence that shows you are disabled or blind. This duty doesn’t end with your initial application. You must continue to submit any new evidence that is related. All evidence you present to SSA has to be complete and needs to be detailed. The SSA needs to determine:
- The nature and severity of your impairment;
- How long you’ve had this impairment; and
- Whether you can do any physical or mental work-related activities with this impairment.
If the SSA determines you don’t meet the requirements for benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. That is one reason why you should hire an experienced Kentucky Social Security disability lawyer who can help you with the application process.
Difference Between SSD and SSI
There are two different types of Social Security benefits, SSD and SSI. Social Security disability benefits rely on your disability and what you pay into the system through your prior employment. Depending on circumstances, working the last five of ten years will be enough to qualify you for benefits. SSI does not rely on your payment into the system. SSI stands for Supplemental Security income and is a needs-based benefit. To determine eligibility for SSI, the SSA looks at several qualifying factors, including your age, disability, limited income, and available resources.
The SSA looks at various types of income for SSI qualification, but not necessarily all your income. First, it looks at earned income—your wages and net earnings from self-employment, sheltered workshop payments, certain royalties, and Honoria. Second, it looks at unearned income, including your pension, unemployment benefits, dividends, state disability benefits, Social Security benefits, and even cash you receive from family and friends. The third kind of income is in-kind income, which is shelter, food, or both, that you receive for less than fair market value or for free. And finally, the SSA considers your deemed income, which is part of the income of your spouse or your parents, provided you live with them.
When it comes to Social Security disability, a personal injury settlement won’t affect your potential eligibility for benefits. However, a payment could disqualify you from SSI benefits if it puts you over the asset allowance threshold.
Hiring a Kentucky Social Security Disability Benefits Attorney
If you need assistance with obtaining Social Security for an injury, let the skilled attorneys at Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC help. Seth Gladstein has a lengthy background in medical malpractice law, which allows him to understand the medical aspects of your disability claim. We understand the application and appeals process. We can help you with your initial application or file an appeal if you have already received a denial.
There are strict requirements and deadlines for disability claims. You need a legal advocate on your side who can help you through this process and improve your chance of being approved for benefits. Contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you