If you’ve sustained an injury that is severe enough that you can no longer work, you might qualify for Social Security Disability or SSD. This federal program is meant to cover lost wages for eligible people who need help paying for living expenses now that they can’t bring in a paycheck anymore, so if your work injuries have left you too disabled to work, you might qualify for SSD.
Note that this program does not factor in how you sustained your injury, so whether you hurt yourself at work or while walking down the street, you may be eligible to receive a check every month. However, when you apply for SSD benefits due to work injuries, you may be able to receive additional compensation from other programs, such as workers’ comp.
If you’re thinking about applying for SSD because of work injuries, here’s what you need to know about how to qualify, how it affects workers’ comp, and why you need a lawyer.
How SSD Can Help After a Work Injury
The point of SSD is to make up for your missed income once you’re too disabled to work. If you qualify for SSD after you sustain work injuries, you can start relying on a check to arrive every month so you can pay your bills despite not being able to work anymore. The amount you will get on your check depends on your lifetime earnings, but the average is about $1,234 each month—with the maximum being $2,861 monthly.
Another detail to note when you apply for SSD after work injuries is that you will be eligible for Medicare 24 months after you start getting SSD benefits. So if you’re concerned about how you will pay for the long-term medical care you need in order to treat your work injuries, SSD may be the answer you’re looking for.
Additionally, SSD offers auxiliary benefits, which means your spouse and children may be eligible to receive funds every month, as well. To qualify for auxiliary benefits, your spouse has to be under age 62 and a joint caregiver for your dependents. For your children to qualify, they must be under 18, unmarried, and dependent on you. If they meet these requirements, you can apply for them to receive SSD, as well.
Qualifications for SSD
For you to qualify for SSD due to work injuries, you have to meet some basic requirements. For example, you must be 18 or older, and you have to be unable to work due to a medical condition that will either last at least 12 months or result in death. While it may be easy to prove you’re over 18, proving that you’re too disabled to work can be much more difficult.
This requires keeping meticulous medical records as you get treated for your work injuries, which you will then include in your SSD application as you try to prove you can no longer earn an income by working. During the application process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be deciding whether your work injuries prevent you from taking on substantial gainful activity, or SGA. This means the SSA will be looking at whether you could continue doing your current job. If not, the SSA will consider if you could do the same kind of work you did in the past, or perhaps get another job entirely, which will depend on your work skills, education, age, and disability. The only way you will qualify for SSD is if you can’t work any job due to your work injuries.
To qualify, you must also show that you earn less than a specific amount of money every month. For most applicants, the limit is $1,220 per month as of 2019, but blind applicants can earn up to $2,040 monthly to account for extra expenses they might have due to blindness. If you earn more than the limit, you won’t qualify for SSD for your work injuries.
If you can prove that you’re unable to work due to your work injuries and you make less than the maximum monthly amount, your next step is to ensure you’ve worked enough in your lifetime to qualify for SSD. After all, this program is funded by payroll taxes, so you need to have worked a minimum number of years—paying into the program through FICA Social Security taxes on your paychecks—to be eligible for benefits.
The amount you need to have worked over your lifetime depends on your age, as that determines how many work credits you need. Note that as of 2019, one work credit typically represents earnings of $1,360, and you can earn up to four work credits per year.
So, if you’re under 24 years old, you may qualify for SSD if you have earned 6 work credits in the 3 years prior to your disability. If you’re 24 to 31 years old, you might qualify if you have enough work credits for half the time between age 21 and the age you became disabled. Finally, if you’re older than 31, you’ll generally need 40 work credits, with 20 of them being earned in the past 10 years before you became disabled.
Can You Get Both SSD and Workers’ Comp After a Work Injury?
Most people who experience work injuries might wonder if they should apply for workers’ comp, in addition to SSD. The answer is that yes, it’s possible to qualify for both, so you can apply for both programs. Just note that the amount you receive may be offset if you end up qualifying for SSD and workers’ comp.
So if you’re already receiving workers’ comp and qualify for SSD, your SSD check may be reduced depending on the amount you get from workers’ comp. Similarly, if you start getting SSD first, your workers’ comp total will likely be reduced to offset the funds you get from your SSD checks.
Why You Need a Lawyer’s Help
As you can see, there are several qualifications to meet before you are deemed eligible for SSD. The process is complex, and if you fill out one form incorrectly, miss one deadline, or fail to explain one answer, you’ll likely be denied. In fact, 67 percent of SSD applicants are denied on their first try, and 87 percent of reconsideration requests are denied, as well. Considering that it typically takes at least four months for your application to be reviewed, you want to do everything you can to get it accepted as soon as possible.
That’s why you need a lawyer on your side. An experienced SSD lawyer can help you navigate the process from start to finish, as most legal representatives of this kind are familiar with the SSA’s rules, preferences, and deadlines. More specifically, an attorney can help you gather the right documents to prove your disability, make sure you have enough work credits to apply, and look for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies that might get your application delayed or denied.
If you’re considering applying for SSD due to work injuries, contact The Good Law Group today to find out how we can help you through the application process!