According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, close to 43,000 individuals die each year due to injuries suffered in car accidents. This doesn’t include, however, the estimated 2.9 million additional passengers and drivers who suffer minor to severe injuries.
Given these statistics, it’s likely that most of us will be involved in a car accident in our life-times, and many of us will suffer some type of injury which will remove us from the workforce for a certain amount of time.
Recently on our disability forum a user wrote, “I was injured in a car accident last year. The doctor’s not sure how long I will be out of work, but I am concerned about how I will pay my bills. Will I qualify for SSDI benefits, and if so, what do I need to do?”
SSDI and car accident injuries
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are offered to claimants who have a severe health condition which is expected to last at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also be insured for SSDI, which means they have worked and earned sufficient work credits to qualify. Conditions which are short-term (lasting less than 12 months) will not qualify for SSDI benefits.
First step to getting SSDI benefits after a car accident
The first step to determining whether you can get SSDI after a car accident is to do the following:
- Go to the medical doctor and get a diagnosis and prognosis about your condition. If the condition will last 12 continuous months and does not allow you to work, go to step 2.
- Review whether or not you have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. If you do, you can apply for SSDI. If not, find out if you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI benefits).
- Make sure you have medical evidence to support your claim of disability. Although the SSA will gather all of your medical records from your treating doctor, if they do not have sufficient medical evidence to prove you are disabled, they will find you not disabled.
- Complete your SSDI application. This can be done online at www.ssa.gov or you can call or visit the nearest SSA office and talk to a SSA representative.
What if I do not qualify for SSDI benefits after a car accident? There are a variety of reasons you may not qualify for SSDI benefits after a car accident: you have a short-term condition, you do not have sufficient work credits, you are working too much when you apply, your condition is not severe enough, or the SSA thinks you can retrain for new work. If you do not qualify for SSDI after a car accident you will need to investigate your other options for generating income. If the car accident was not your fault and your injuries were caused by the negligence of another driver, you may receive a settlement from their insurance company which may compensate you for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.
Can I file a personal injury claim for car accident injuries?
In some states you may be able to file a personal injury claim after a car accident if you are injured from the negligence of another driver. Other states, referred to as no-fault states, limit your rights to file an injury claim after a car accident, allowing claims only if the severity of your injuries reach a certain threshold or the cost of your injuries exceed a certain threshold. Recent articles: What if I have a car accident in a rental car?
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