If I am Injured in a Highway Accident, is Social Security Disability Possible?

Every qualified injury attorney or accident lawyer knows that if their client is injured, the injuries may be permanent, or at the very least, likely to last more than twelve months. Some of these types of injuries include spine injuries and back injuries which cause paralysis, either paraplegia or quadriplegia.  Brain injury can be quite debilitating, as can severe burns from electrocution, or amputation of a limb.  Blindness is permanent, and loss of hearing is as well.  It makes no difference whether these injuries were caused by a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer, a motorcycle accident, a truck accident, or a construction accident.

The Social Security Disability rules and regulations will grant a person disability benefits if that person’s injuries are expected to last more than twelve months.  The injuries do not have to be permanent.  Thus, if the injured person is unable to work for twenty four months, but then is able to return to work in the twenty fifth month, that person is entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits for those twenty four months.  Remember, the injuries must also be severe enough to meet the social security regulations (please see previous blogs for a discussion on how the SSA determines if a person’s injuries are severe enough to merit disability).  It must be noted that the first five months of every period of disability is eliminated from eligibility for benefits.  So in our above example, the person who is entitled to 24 months of benefits will receive only 19 months of benefits because the first five months are not eligible for payment.

If the injured person receives fair compensation for the injuries they receive in the traffic accident or the construction accident, that money does not affect the injured person’s eligibility for Title Two Disability benefits.  If the injured person has not worked five out of the ten years prior to their road accident or construction accident, they may only be entitled to Title Sixteen Supplemental Security Benefits (SSI).  If this is so, then the amount of money received as compensation for their injuries may affect how much money that person is entitled to receive in SSI benefits.

Finally, if the injured person was working when they were in the traffic accident, or in the construction accident, they may be entitled to workers compensation benefits.  If so there are two sets of consequences if the person receives compensation from the negligent person’s insurance company.  The injured person must repay, out of their compensation from the negligent person’s insurance company, 2/3rds of the amount the workers compensation carrier paid.  This is called subrogation.  In addition, your social security benefits will be reduced by a proportion of the amount you received from the worker’s compensation insurance carrier.

Each situation is factually different, so if you have a situation where you think your injury from being in a highway accident with a drunk driver driving a semi tractor trailer involves issues of workers compensation and social security, give us a call.  At Young and Young we have helped thousands of Hoosiers sort through these issues to make their lives less complicated. We look forward to hearing from you.

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