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Drunk driving accident can I get SSDI benefits?

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hundreds of thousands of drivers are injured each year in drunk driving accidents. Many of these drivers are left with severe and debilitating injuries which leave them unable to return to work and provide financially for their families. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “If I have been injured in a drunk driving accident and I no longer have the physical capacity to work, can I apply for SSDI benefits?”

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Applying for SSDI benefits after a drunk driving accident


Qualifying individuals may apply for SSDI benefits if they have a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last at least 12 continuous months and does not leave them with the residual capacity to work.

To win benefits after a drunk driving accident, however, individuals must also have sufficient work credits to be considered “insured” by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which means they have worked and paid sufficient taxes into the SSA system to earn enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

If you have questions about whether or not you have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits following a drunk driving accident you can review your most recent statement of earnings sent to you by the SSA or contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

Proving disability after a drunk driving accident


Winning disability has less to do with how you are disabled and more to do with your remaining residual capacity to work following your drunk driving accident.

For example, the SSA will not care whether you were injured in a drunk driving accident or whether you fell off a ladder. 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).

To make this determination they will look at your diagnosis and your prognosis, including all relevant medical testing, doctor’s notes, lab reports, blood tests, etc. They will also compare your diagnosis and symptoms to other conditions they have listed in their SSA Listing of Impairments (a general listing of conditions and symptoms they assume are disabling). If your condition “meets or equals” a listing, they will find you disabled.

If your condition does not meet or equal a listing they have an additional process, referred to as medical vocational allowance, which allows them to determine whether you have the ability to retrain for new work.

If after your car accident injury they decide your condition meets a listing or it does not meet a listing but you cannot work your previous job or retrain for new work, you will be awarded SSDI benefits.

If they decide your car accident injury does not meet or equal a listing and you can retrain for new work, they will deny your SSDI claim. Denials generally can be appealed within 60 days from the date of the denial letter.

Drunk driving accident and personal injury awards

Another option if you are approved or denied for SSDI benefits after a drunk driving accident is to consider whether you can file a personal injury claim. Some states do not allow personal injury lawsuits to be filed following a car accident unless specific injury or monetary thresholds are met. Discuss your drunk driving accident case with a personal injury lawyer if you have questions.

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