Disability for Car Accidents in Florida
Recovering from a serious car accident injury takes time. Many crash victims lose income because they cannot work while they heal. But the bills don’t stop coming just because you’re out of commission. If your car accident injuries prevent you from working for more than 12 months, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits could help relieve your financial burdens.
Unfortunately, being approved for SSDI is not easy. Around 70 percent of claims are denied on the first try. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a very strict definition of disability. Fail to prove your claim, and it’s very likely to be rejected.
But Brooks Law Group can help.
For years, our team of experienced car accident attorneys have helped crash victims in Tampa, Lakeland, Winter Haven, and Auburndale with Social Security Disability Insurance applications and appeals. We’ll help you navigate the process and ensure that your application meets all of the SSA’s requirements for disability after a car accident.
Call 1-800-LAW-3030 or contact us for a free consultation about your SSDI claim.
Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability After a Car Accident?
Not everyone that applies for SSDI is eligible for benefits. It depends on the type of injury you have sustained and your ability to work.
The requirements include:
- Suffering an injury or developing a condition that prevents you from working for at least one year
- Being unable to return to any other type of job
For example, imagine that you work in a warehouse and regularly lift heavy items, but broke your arm during a car crash. You will not be able to return to work for a period of several weeks or even months. However, the injury is probably not enough of a disability to qualify you for SSDI because you will return to work within one year, barring any complications.
Now imagine that a car accident left you permanently paralyzed. Such a catastrophic injury is not only going to prevent you from returning to your job, but will make it very challenging to find another type of work. This type of claim would be much more likely to gain approval from the SSA.
Which Injuries Qualify for SSDI?
The SSA has created a Blue Book that lists the types injuries and conditions that could qualify you for SSDI. Certain symptoms are also listed within the Blue Book. Many of the injuries included in the Blue Book could result from a car crash, including:
- Multiple broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- Severe burns
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Joint injuries
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Psychological trauma (e.g., PTSD)
If you suffered from these or other serious injuries after a crash in central Florida, the knowledgeable lawyers at Brooks Law Group can assess how likely you might be to get disability after a car accident.
What Can I Do if My Injury is Not Listed in the Blue Book?
Even if you do not see your condition or injury listed within the Blue Book, you may still qualify for SSDI. That’s why the SSA includes certain symptoms within the book. If your symptoms are similar to the ones listed in the Blue Book, you may still have a qualifying impairment for SSDI.
The number of injuries you sustained may also make a difference. If you suffered multiple injuries in the car accident, the SSA will evaluate them as a whole and how they affect your ability to work and function in daily life. Even though your separate injuries may not prevent you from working, when looked at altogether, they might.
Everyone needs proof of injury when applying for disability benefits. But when your injury is not listed in the Blue Book, you will need to present a professional diagnosis from a doctor, along with medical records that outline your injury or injuries. You will also need to establish the fact that you cannot work for at least one year, and that you cannot perform other types of jobs.
How to File a Disability Claim After a Car Accident
You can apply for SSDI online or by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. You could also schedule an appointment to apply at your local Social Security Office.
Keep in mind that applying for disability is much more than simply filling out a form. The SSA receives thousands of applications every year, and they approve just a fraction of those. Here are some tips that can give you the best chance of success with your claim.
- Don’t file for SSDI while you’re still working. You are applying for benefits on the basis that your car accident injuries make you unable to work. If you’re holding down a job when you file, the SSA is going to flag that as a warning sign.
- Provide strong medical records. The SSA will look to ensure that you have received medical treatment recently and that you have been getting treatment regularly. If you have not received medical care, it will indicate to the SSA that you are not seriously injured and should be fit for work.
- Include a residual functional capacity form. The SSA weighs the opinions of medical professionals heavily when evaluating claims. If possible, have your doctor fill out a residual functional capacity form. This will detail the prognosis for your injuries and the limitations you are experiencing due to them. This form should be included with your initial application for SSDI.
- Follow all of the doctor’s orders. The Social Security examiner will expect you to follow every doctor’s prescribed treatment plan. If you have been skipping physical therapy appointments or not refilling prescriptions for pain medication, your case will be weakened.
- Check for conflicting information. Review your application carefully to make sure that the information provided is presented logically.
- Don’t appeal without legal representation. If you have already been denied, having an experienced disability attorney represent you during the appeals process can improve your chances of being awarded benefits.
When to Contact a Florida Car Accident Injury Lawyer
An attorney can help you apply for SSDI benefits and assist with any appeals. If you haven’t applied yet, it’s smart to consult with a disability lawyer before starting the process alone. Most SSDI lawyers offer free consultations that can evaluate the strength of your claim and advise you on your next steps.
After the initial consultation, an attorney can assist with your application, making sure it contains everything the SSA will need to make a determination. There are also important deadlines that must be met in order to qualify for SSDI. An attorney can ensure that all the necessary documentation is prepared and filed on time.
Even if you do not speak to an attorney to get help with your initial application, it is crucial that you speak to one if you are denied and need to appeal the decision. Disability appeals have several stages, and a lawyer can assist you through all of them.
- Request for Reconsideration: Your original claim will be reevaluated by a different examiner and medical consultant. If you are denied again, you will be informed in writing and given the reason(s) why.
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing: You can request a hearing within 60 days of receiving your denial. An attorney can represent you at this hearing and prepare you for how to answer the judge’s questions.
- Appeals Council Review: If the administrative hearing does not go in your favor, you can ask for an Appeals Council Review. The council may choose to grant, deny, or dismiss your claim without review.
- Federal Court Lawsuit: You can file a claim in federal court to have your request for SSDI reviewed. A district court judge will look at the facts to see whether the SSA made an unreasonable decision to deny your benefits claim.
If your injuries are terminal or you are experiencing extreme financial hardship, the SSA has a compassionate allowances program that expedites claims for people whose conditions would automatically qualify them for benefits. Your attorney will be able to advise you about whether you might qualify for an expedited review, but compassionate allowances are usually granted for terminal illnesses such as cancer, brain disorders, and childhood illnesses. Car accident injuries would be less likely to fall into that category.
How Can Brooks Law Group Help Me?
Life after a serious car accident can be stressful, especially if you are dealing with mounting medical bills and a drop in household income because you can’t work. Social Security Disability Insurance could be a vital resource for you. But it’s easy to jeopardize a claim by making an error or failing to provide strong evidence.
If you’ve been in a car accident and are seeking SSDI benefits, schedule a case review with one of the attorneys at Brooks Law Group today. Our committed lawyers can assist with every aspect of the SSDI process. Whether you’re just starting to apply or are considering an appeal, we can review your case in a free consultation.
Contact us today to get started.