Do You Need Help With Your Disability Claim?

Disability Attorneys and Advocates can help you in all phases of the disability claim process.

Contact an advocate today for your FREE case evaluation!

Free Online Evaluation!

Spinal Cord injury after DUI accident can I get SSDI?

Hundreds of thousands of drivers and passengers are seriously injured each year in a drunk driving accident. Unfortunately, some of the injuries are very severe, leading to long-term debilitating conditions and possibly weeks or months of unemployment. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “If I have been involved in a drunk driving accident and I suffered a severe spinal cord injury can I qualify for SSDI benefits?”

Spinal cord injury and SSDI benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not make a disability determination for benefits based on how an accident occurs, but rather the ability of the injured party to return to work following the accident. If your spinal cord injury occurred in a drunk driving accident, the condition is severe, it is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, and you can prove you do not have the residual physical capacity to work, you may be determined disabled by the SSA. Let’s take a closer look at what evidence the SSA will review to make a disability determination. Spinal cord injury and qualifying for SSDI benefits The spinal cord is part of the nervous system and is comprised of a network of nerves which branch from the spinal cord to different parts of the body. All of these nerves are critical because they send commands from the brain and spinal cord to all parts of the body, allowing for movement and other functions. The spinal cord is housed within a series of bones referred to as the spine or spinal column. Following a drunk driving accident, the spinal cord may be compressed, partially cut, or completely severed. The symptoms and limitations following a spinal cord injury will vary based on the severity of the injury to the spinal cord. For instance, if a driver’s spinal cord is cut at the waist an individual may lose the ability to move any part of their body below the waist.

Proving disability for a spinal cord injury after a drunk driving accident

As mentioned above, the SSA will not care how your spinal cord was injured, they will simply review your medical records and decide if you have the residual capacity to work and perform what they call substantial gainful activity (SGA) following your accident. Assuming you meet the nonmedical requirement to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD), the SSA will look at your diagnosis and your prognosis, including all relevant medical testing, doctor’s notes, lab reports, and blood tests contained in your medical record. They will review whether your spinal cord condition “meets or exceeds” a listing in their SSA Listing of Impairments (a general listing of conditions and symptoms they assume are disabling). For example, a spinal cord injury is reviewed under Listing 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, Section 1.04. Not only must you have a listed condition, but you also must have sufficient medical evidence to prove your condition meets or exceeds a listing, which means you have the listed symptoms or your symptoms are as severe as the listed symptoms. If your spinal cord injury and the resulting condition meets or exceeds a listing you should be immediately awarded SSDI benefits. If not, it’s likely your initial claim will be denied and you may need to talk to a disability lawyer about appealing the denial. Recent blogs: How does the SSA determine if I need to see a judge?