Some car accident victims are left with injuries that last a lifetime. Living with a short-term or permanent disability can quickly lead to financial hardships, especially if the injured person is unable to work.
If you are struggling to pay the bills after a car accident in Boston, financial help is possible. One potential source of income is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
SSDI is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly income to eligible claimants with disabilities that keep them out of work for at least 12 months. There are strict guidelines that must be met in order to qualify for SSDI. Most claims are denied on the first try, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Talk to the Boston car accident attorneys at Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers today. Our experienced lawyers can review your case and determine whether you have a valid disability claim. We can also help you apply for SSDI and handle appeals, as well as explore whether you can file a personal injury claim against the party at fault for the wreck.
Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
- 1 What Is Social Security Disability?
- 2 Am I Entitled to Disability After A Car Crash?
- 3 What If My Injury Is Not Listed?
- 4 How to File a Disability Claim After a Car Accident
- 5 What Happens After You File For Disability
- 6 When to Contact a Boston Car Accident Lawyer
- 7 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Applying For SSDI
- 8 Options Beyond SSDI
- 9 How Can Kelly & Associates Help Me?
What Is Social Security Disability?
In general, you can file for SSDI benefits following a car accident if the crash renders you unable to work for at least one year.
The easiest way to qualify for benefits is by meeting the criteria for disabilities outlined in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book.
The Blue Book spells out the types of injuries and medical conditions that are qualifying disabilities. Obviously, your best chance of obtaining SSDI benefits will come if your injury or condition clearly aligns with the impairments listed in the book. Otherwise, you will need to show that your condition “medically equals” a listed impairment.
Many of the impairments include injuries commonly suffered by car accident victims. These include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Ruptured or torn ligaments and tendons
- Severe burns
- Brain injuries or neurological disorders
- Vision or hearing impairment
- Speech impairment
- Anxiety, depression, or PTSD
Being diagnosed with a condition in the Blue Book is not an automatic guarantee for disability benefits. You must be able to prove that the impairment prevents you from working or from being trained to perform a new job. A knowledgeable auto accident attorney can help you collect the documentation you will need to support your claim for SSDI benefits.
Am I Entitled to Disability After A Car Crash?
SSDI benefits are reserved for those people who suffer a disability so severe that they are incapable of performing any meaningful, gainful work.
- You will only be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits after a car accident if:
- You have earned enough credits by working in jobs that paid into the Social Security system.
- You can show that your injury or condition is a listed impairment that prevented you from working for at least one year or is expected to keep you out of work for at least one year.
- You are not currently working and earning more than a certain level of income in a “substantial gainful activity” defined by the SSA.
- There are no jobs that you can perform or be trained to perform within your physical or mental limitations.
Example: Imagine that you were a construction worker that sustained permanent nerve damage in your legs after a car accident. You may no longer be able to climb ladders or work on scaffolds again, but if a Social Security examiner finds that you could perform another job (e.g., sedentary office work), you may be deemed ineligible for SSDI benefits even though you have an impairment listed in the Blue Book.
What If My Injury Is Not Listed?
Even if an injury or condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you may still be able to obtain disability benefits by claiming that you suffer symptoms contained in the regulations. This alternative approach allows you to establish that you have a qualifying disability from multiple injuries or conditions, even if each impairment on its own would not qualify.
Successfully obtaining benefits for an unlisted injury will require significant medical evidence. This includes your medical records along with testimony from treating physicians and/or medical experts who have examined you. You may also need to provide testimony from vocational experts confirming that you cannot perform your old job or a different job for at least one year due to your disability.
If you’re living with a disability after a car accident, the last thing you need to do is to figure out what supporting documentation will be necessary to complete your application for SSDI benefits. Let the trusted attorneys at Kelly & Associates help.
Our proven disability attorneys can collect all of the information for you and arrange to get expert testimony if you don’t have it already. That way, you can feel comfortable that your application is submitted completely and accurately.
How to File a Disability Claim After a Car Accident
To seek SSDI benefits after a car accident, you will need to file an application at your local Social Security office or apply online.
In the application, you must include information and evidence that indicates that you suffer from a listed impairment or from other symptoms that, in combination, equal a listed impairment.
You will also need to establish that your impairment has kept you out of work for at least 12 months or is reasonably expected to keep you out of work for a year or longer. You will also have to show that you are not earning income over a certain maximum level (determined by the SSA each year).
What Happens After You File For Disability
After you file the application, the SSA will review the records and other information you have submitted with your application to determine whether any medical treatment you received for your injuries was successful.
The agency will also examine whether any medication you are taking is successful in controlling any pain or other symptoms you are experiencing. It will also review any kind of physical or cognitive/mental limitations your treating medical providers have placed on you.
The SSA will then assign you a physical residual functional capacity rating based on your ability to perform certain job duties. The categories include sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work, based on your ability to stand, walk, carry or operate objects, or interact with other people.
If you have a rating of sedentary or higher, you will generally be found not disabled (unless you are unable to transfer to a new job because you lack transferable skills or the ability to be trained in new skills).
Applying for SSDI is a very complicated, technical process with a lot of bureaucratic pitfalls. You can rely on the car accident attorneys at Kelly & Associates to help you every step of the way.
When to Contact a Boston Car Accident Lawyer
Don’t be surprised if your initial application for SSDI is rejected. The SSA denies the majority of claims during the first review. In most cases, this is because the application is incomplete. Usually, this means there was not sufficient medical or expert evidence to prove that the claimant was unable to work or be trained in a different but roughly equivalent occupation.
Even when claimants are asked for additional information, the language the SSA uses in their requests can be confusing. As a result, applicants submit the wrong information, which can lead to additional denials or delays.
Hitting these roadblocks does not mean you are out of luck. It just means that it’s time to contact a car accident attorney with experience handling disability benefits claims.
If you have already applied for and been denied SSDI benefits, Kelly & Associates can guide you through the reconsideration and appeals process. Our firm can also uncover additional evidence and information to bolster your application and give it the best possible chance for approval.
Our Boston car accident disability attorney can:
- Determine what evidence is needed to show that you suffer from a listed impairment or a medically equivalent one
- Communicate with the SSA for you
- Represent you during appeals
- Identify witnesses who can testify to the severity of your disability
- Prepare you for questions that you may be asked during an administrative hearing
- Discuss other legal options for compensation if all attempts to obtain SSDI are exhausted
Most Common Mistakes People Make When Applying For SSDI
Errors can make or break a claim for SSDI. Here are some of the most common errors that claimants make when applying for Social Security disability benefits:
- Filing a disability claim while working: If you are claiming that you are too disabled work, applying for SSDI while you are holding down a job does not make sense. The SSA will notice this inconsistency.
- Applying too soon: Remember, your disability must have lasted for one year or longer.
- Incomplete medical records: The SSA may have its own physician examine you, but don’t let that exam serve as the only proof of your disability. Get complete medical records from all your doctors and medical providers to supplement your application.
- Not enough work credits: Your employment history matters when it comes to getting disability benefits. You earn work credits for every year that you work a job that pays into the Social Security system. Generally, you must have earned 20 work credits over the last 15 years to receive SSDI, with certain age exceptions. If there has been a gap in your employment, you need to call your local SSA office and ask for your Date of Last Insured (DLI). If you became disabled before your DLI, you are more likely to gain approval for disability benefits. If your injury occurred after your DLI, you may still be able to obtain benefits, but it could be more complicated.
- Not following doctor’s orders: It’s essential to follow all of the treatment plans prescribed by your physicians and other therapists. Failure to do so could lead SSA examiners to believe that you are not as disabled as you claim to be.
- Not seeking legal advice: Getting an attorney’s help to apply for disability benefits after a car accident can simplify the process and improve your chances of approval. It’s especially important to contact a lawyer if you’ve been denied. Although legal representation is not required during the appeals process, the proceedings operate like a trial. A lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected and will make the best case for you.
Options Beyond SSDI
The other benefit of working with an attorney after a car accident is that you can explore other options for compensation. In accidents that were someone else’s fault, you may be able to obtain compensation by filing a claim against the liable party’s insurance company. If the at-fault party is uninsured or underinsured, you may also be able to claim compensation through your own car insurance policy if you have purchased UM/UIM coverage.
Recovering compensation from these sources can provide money to help with:
- Current, past, and future medical expenses
- Prescription medications
- Rehabilitation, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy
- Long-term health care equipment, such as wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and prosthetic devices
- The cost of home renovations to accommodate the disability
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Most car accidents claims can be resolved successfully through a settlement with the responsible party. If settlement talks break down, the attorneys at Kelly & Associates are talented trial lawyers who won’t hesitate to fight for you in court if that’s what it takes to recover full and fair compensation for you.
How Can Kelly & Associates Help Me?
If you or a loved one is living with a disability after a crash, the Boston car accident attorneys at Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers can determine whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. When you work with us, you get a dedicated legal team who is committed to getting you maximum compensation.
At Kelly & Associates Injury Lawyers, you will get personalized attention from one of our accomplished car accident attorneys. We know how important your case is, and you can trust us to give it the attention it deserves.