Recently on our disability forum a user asked, If I have been involved in a severe car accident and I have broken my leg will I automatically receive Social Security Disability Insurance for the months I am unable to work?
Qualifying for SSDI after a car accident
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI may be offered to claimants who have suffered severe injuries following a car accident, but whether or not they will be awarded SSDI benefits will depend on whether the claimant meets the medical and nonmedical requirements for SSDI benefits.
For example, the SSA will only award SSDI benefits to claimants who are not currently working and making too much money, who are insured for SSDI benefits, who have a severe mental or physical health condition, and who have a condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months.
So lets look at a common injury from a car accident. Lets say, for example, you have been involved in a car accident and you have a broken leg. Assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI benefits, the SSA will review whether or not they believe your broken leg will last 12 continuous months and will not allow you to work.
Making a disability determination for a broken leg
Breaking a major bone in the body such as your tibia or fibula can be very serious. Common symptoms of a broken leg may include the inability to walk for several months, instability or deformity in the leg, and loss of feeling in the foot. Severe complications are also not that unusual and can include bone fragments that tear muscles or nerves, swelling of the leg (compartment syndrome), infection, and bone clots.
To determine if your broken leg is severe the SSA will review the SSA Listing of Impairments (a listing of some of the most common conditions and their corresponding symptoms which they assume are disabling). There is a listing for bone fractures under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, Section 1.06 Fracture of the femur, tibia, pelvis, or one or more of the tarsal bones.
Your condition may meet this listing if you break your tibia and an X-ray or other imaging showing that the bone has not healed, the doctor acknowledges your bones have not healed properly, and you are unable to walk effectively (meaning for any substantial distance or period of time). There is also a separate listing for fractures for major dysfunction of a joint.
Broken leg and cannot work
If you have not broken your tibia but you have broken your fibula, you may also have injuries which are so severe that they meet or equal the listing identified above. Other claimants may have a condition which does not meet or equal a listing but the condition is so severe it does not allow them to perform work.
For example, if you have a broken leg and you have limited ambulatory ability, you cannot put weight on your leg, and you cannot focus or complete work due to medications and their side-effects such as fatigue and decreased reaction time, you may be able to prove your residual functional capacity to work is so low you cannot retrain for new work.