A serious accident can leave you battered and broken — and unable to work. At some point, it may become necessary to file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits.
Under the rules used by the Social Security Administration (SSA), there’s a very strict definition of what it means to be disabled (and, therefore, entitled to benefits). Part of that definition is called the “duration requirement.” SSA will only approve disability claims where the condition has lasted at least 12 continuous months, is expected to last at least 12 continuous months or is expected to end in your death.
In practice, this means that if you fell off a curb and broke both your arms, you probably won’t qualify for Social Security Disability benefits even though you were unable to work. That’s because most broken bones heal well within 12 months, and SSA knows this.
But what if there are complications and it’s going to take several surgeries before you’re functional again? If you’ve only recently been injured, overcoming the duration requirement can be problematic. You essentially have to show SSA that you’re condition is clearly so severe that it will take more than a year of recovery. That can be problematic if your treating physician is reluctant to commit to an estimate of the time that it may take.
Naturally, some catastrophic accidents leave people so badly injured that recovery in less than a year is impossible — especially if there’s a traumatic brain injury or damage to the victim’s spinal cord. In other cases, it may take a little more effort to get your Social Security Disability claim approved.