Car accident injury should I take disability or go back to work?
Recently on our disability forum a user asked, I was injured in a very severe car accident about a month ago. I have not been able to return to my construction job since the accident. The doctor says I could be out of work for up to one year. I am wondering if I should apply for SSDI benefits or if I should just wait and go back to work.
When should you apply for SSDI benefits?
The question of whether or not to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or go back to work may seem like a difficult question but actually the requirements to qualify for disability as well as the length of time your condition will last will answer that question for you. With that in mind, lets take a closer look at your condition and what you would need to prove to win SSDI benefits.
What is SSDI and can I get it for a car accident injury?
Social Security Disability Insurance is wage replacement benefits offered to claimants who have a severe mental or physical health condition and who are unable to return to work for at least 12 continuous months. Workers must also have sufficient work credits to be considered insured for SSDI, which means they have worked a number of years and paid employment taxes.
Now, well assume that you have enough work credits if you have been working most of your life and paying taxes. The next questions to review are the severity of your condition and how long your condition will last.
Car accident injury must be severe and you cannot currently be working too much or making too much money
Claimants often apply for benefits with only minor conditions or while they are working and making too much money. You mentioned you were not able to work and your condition is severe. With this in mind, you will not have to worry about this requirement, but you will need to determine how long your condition will keep you from working.
Car accident injury must last at least 12 continuous months
Claimants who have a car accident injury which is expected to last less than 12 continuous months will not qualify for SSDI benefits regardless of the severity of their current condition. Now, you mentioned you have been out of work for one month. Not only have you not passed the five month SSDI waiting period, you are a long way from the one year minimum requirement for SSDI benefits.
You did mention your doctor said that you might be out of work for at least one year. With this in mind, you could go ahead and apply for SSDI benefits. The downside is that it could take months to receive benefits, but the upside is that by the time your case is reviewed by a judge you might qualify for what is termed closed period benefits (benefits for a specific number of months) even if you had already returned to work.
What if you get evidence that your car accident injury will last at least 12 continuous months? If at any time your doctor or medical evidence suggests that your condition will last for at least one year or more it would be a good idea to immediately apply for SSDI benefits.