Thankfully, most auto accidents do not result in major injuries, and those involved recover relatively quickly and resume their normal life; other crashes result in catastrophic injuries. Many lie somewhere in between in terms of the severity of injury. Basic Eligibility
Not all people who are wage earners or who are self-employed are eligible for SSD benefits. An individual must have accumulated sufficient work credits as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines before benefits may be payable. For most workers, this means they must have worked five out of the last ten years, although younger workers may have different eligibility thresholds.
Disability as Defined by SSA
The SSA does not provide benefits for those deemed partially or temporarily disabled. A person is disabled for the purpose of collecting SSD benefits if he or she suffers from a severe medical impairment
- that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death; and
- that prevents one from engaging in any substantial gainful employment.
Some New York workers are covered by short-term disability coverage provided by their employers for injuries not sustained at work. This, however, is not a SSA benefit.
The Nature of Auto Accidents
Not only do auto accidents result in a range of potential injuries to the parties involved, but also the cause of and liability for the accident are variables. Although determination of these issues is relevant to insurance companies, personal injury lawyers and the people involved, liability for an accident is not an issue the SSA will consider. Even if a SSD claimant was 100 percent liable for the accident that led to the disability, the individual nonetheless can receive benefits if all the other criteria for determining disability have been met.
The Nature of Auto Accident Injuries
There is little doubt that those who have suffered a catastrophic injury in an auto accident can be considered totally disabled, even by SSA’s stringent standards. Amputees or people who have suffered major spinal column damage or head trauma are clearly disabled. For others with less severe injuries, the determination of disability may not be so clear. More problematic perhaps is where there is a combination of impairments, none of which alone is disabling but in combination may be. For all applicants, not just those applying for disability after an auto accident, your lawyer will tell you the denial rate is 60 percent or higher.
Contact a lawyer from Pashler & Devereaux for Legal Advice
Denials are common, but appeals present a greater opportunity for approval. Find out what you can do to improve your chance for success. Call Chris Pashler or Kathleen Devereaux, Buffalo disability lawyers, at 716-874-1739.