Victims who suffer severe car accident injuries may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits if they can no longer work or if their ability to work is compromised after the crash. While there is a heavy focus on the recovery of immediate compensation in a court case, the extensive process of applying for SSDI is often overlooked. Knowledge of all of the benefits available to victims is crucial as a person begins to regain control of his or her life.
Understanding SSDI Benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll insurance program funded by the federal government through taxes. Managed and maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA), SSDI’s main purpose is to provide financial relief to those who find themselves greatly reduced in their work capacity due to physical or mental disabilities. The cause of these disabilities, whether the result of an ongoing condition since birth or a recent injury accident, matters very little as long as up to five questions can be answered to the SSA’s satisfaction. The questions are as follows:
- Is the claimant performing substantial gainful activity?
- Is the claimant’s impairment severe?
- Does the impairment meet or equal the severity of the impairments in the Listing of Impairments?
- Is the claimant able to perform past work?
- Is the claimant able to perform any work in the economy?
Once the questions are answered to their satisfaction, the SSA provides monthly SSDI benefits to the individual. The amount a person with a disability receives is based on a portion of past earnings. These benefits may take a considerable amount of time to acquire, especially if there is an appeal or reconsideration.
If an injury is not listed within the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, the victim may still qualify for benefits if it is established that the disability is medically equivalent to one in the listing. A doctor is often enlisted to assist with creating a residual functioning capacity form (RFC) to determine the severity of the impairment. This can be a practitioner enlisted by the SSA or the treating doctor of the claimant. The RFC is determined by evaluating the workload the individual can complete easily, ranging from heavy factory work to sedentary work. Usually, one needs to be scored as less than capable of performing sedentary workloads. Exceptions for the rules exist. If the applicant is over the age of 55 or cannot change jobs due to a lack of education or formal training, then that is taken into consideration.
Victims do not need to have a permanent injury for the Social Security Administration to approve the disability checks. If the disability is severe enough to prevent an individual from performing substantial gainful activity for at least twelve months, then the person is likely eligible to receive benefits from the SSA to compensate for lost wages in the short term. For individuals who are able to work, but must accept a position with significantly reduced wages due to impairments from the car accident, some benefits may still apply.