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Are you eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

After your car accident, you spent considerable time in treatment for your injuries. Now, your doctor says you have recovered as much as you will, and the medical issues you suffer from now are not likely to get any better. 

If your serious disability has left you without the ability to return to your job, you may qualify for benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance.

What is SSDI?

As with other insurance policies, you make regular payments to SSDI, and if you become disabled, you receive benefits. Unlike your auto or home insurance policies, you did not make these payments directly. Instead, throughout your career, you paid into the Social Security trust fund via Social Security tax withholdings from your paychecks. If you have paid into the system long enough, you become eligible for benefits.

Who qualifies?

You become eligible for SSDI if you have a disability on the Social Security Administration's listing of impairments. These include a wide range of disabilities to any of the following systems:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Cardiovascular
  • Endocrine
  • Skin
  • Mental
  • Neurological

This is not an exhaustive list, and each system has many sub-sections, so it is a good idea to examine the list carefully to determine if SSDI covers a particular medical condition.

You must show you are unable to return to your old job. Also, based on your education, training, age and work experience, SSA will determine if you are unable to find meaningful employment in another field. Your disability may still allow you to train for a new career. For example, maybe you can no longer work as a vehicle mechanic, but with training, you could become an information technology specialist.

What evidence do you need?

To qualify, you have to provide medical evidence of your disability. It is not enough to simply provide a statement listing your symptoms. You need to have documentation showing you have had the appropriate tests and a doctor has used these to provide you with a diagnosis. Your doctor may have to provide expert witness testimony to the administrative law judge, and the SSA may also require you to visit a physician with experience working with the SSA.

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