Can I Get Disability Benefits After a Car Accident?

A car accident can leave you with physical injuries such as fractured bones, soft tissue injuries, and brain injuries, as well as psychological trauma that manifests as anxiety or depression. If an injury prevents you from working, you may struggle paying the bills and daily expenses, let alone for medical care. Disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, or SSA, may be available to help you financially.

filling out social security disability form online

How Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits?

The SSA details its medical requirements in its Listing of Impairments, or Blue Book. In general, your injury must be severe enough to prevent you from going back to work for at least a year, or it’s anticipated your injuries will take 12 months or more to heal. That means you won’t always qualify for benefits just because you are injured.

For example, if you have a broken arm that should heal in a couple of months, you probably won’t qualify, but the loss of an arm may make it impossible to work at all. Also, if a broken bone hasn’t healed properly, leading to complications and additional surgeries, you are also more likely to qualify for benefits.

Under the SSA’s rules, the most common disability listings (and those a car accident attorney is most likely to see), include:

  • Leg/Arm Fractures: Qualifying factors include a non-healing leg fracture, with separated bone fragments, which impair your ability to walk. Nonunion of arm, wrist, or elbow bones; the need for ongoing medical treatment; and a lack of arm function for at least 12 months can qualify you for SSA benefits as well.
  • Back Disorders: Medical proof of nerve root compression, muscle atrophy, limited spinal movement, decreased sensation or reflexes. Other qualifying factors include a diagnosis of spinal arachnoiditis, which may require you to shift positions frequently, or a diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis accompanied by weakness, impairment of walking ability, and pain.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Can involve damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves as well as the skin and blood vessels. Burns are included in this category per SSA guidelines. You might qualify for benefits if injuries affect your speech, vision, or eating ability, or a burn limits the use of at least two extremities, the palms of both hands, or soles of both feet.
  • Anxiety Disorders: Some car accident victims have anxiety severe enough to prevent them from working. Post traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety are common after auto accidents. A psychiatrist must determine whether you’re suffering from an anxiety-related disorder you can receive benefits for.

Another option, if you fail to qualify for SSA disability benefits, is to apply for a state-sponsored short-term disability program. Employment departments in states such as California and New York offer such programs, which can provide you with temporary benefits.

What If I’m Denied Benefits?

An injury you sustained may not be listed by the SSA. If you have multiple injuries, the administration might consider the combined effects of both if you can prove you’ll miss at least a year of work, have detailed medical records, and can’t perform other jobs or duties.

But if you’re denied benefits altogether, you may pursue a lawsuit. However, lawsuits can seem cost-prohibitive, and waiting for an accident settlement can take years. When you have no other alternative, FCA Legal Funding can help. We can provide non-recourse legal funding in Los Angeles based on the information your attorney provides us and approve your funds within 24 hours. Learn more by calling 310-424-5176 or applying online today!