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Personal injury lawsuit - Do I have to file one to get SSDI?

Recently on our disability forum we had a user ask if they had to file a personal injury lawsuit prior to filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This blog will address the differences between personal injury claims and SSDI claims and when a claimant should pursue each type of claim.

What is a personal injury lawsuit?

Personal injury claims can be filed when an individual has been injured due to the negligent actions of another person and the negligence resulted in loss or injury to the claimant. Common personal injury claims include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and premise liability cases. Personal injury claims can also be filed for an injury due to a criminal action such as homicide or assault and battery, regardless of whether or not the defendant is ultimately convicted of the crime.

All personal injury claims must be filed within a specified time period from the date of injury. This time period is called the statute of limitations and varies by state. States also have various methods to determine how compensation will be awarded for a personal injury claim. For instance, some states will allow a claim to be filed even if the plaintiff is 99% at fault, while others may require the plaintiff to prove they are less than 50% at fault. Talk to an injury lawyer if you have questions.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a wage replacement compensation offered by the federal government for workers who become disabled and are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. Workers must have a severe mental or physical condition and must prove they cannot perform what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity. Workers must also earn work credits to be considered insured for SSDI benefits.

Do I have to file a personal injury claim to get SSDI?

Although many plaintiffs may have been injured due to the negligence of another person and find that they cannot return to work, whether or not they can file a personal injury claim will depend on the facts of their case and will have no bearing on their potential SSDI claim.

For instance, if you are injured in a severe car accident and have severe brain damage you may not be able to return to work, but whether you can file a car accident claim will depend on the state you live (some no-fault states have limitations on injury claims for car accidents) and whether or not you were at fault for your own injuries.

LetÂ’s say that you choose to file a car accident case and you win your case. Can you still file for SSDI benefits? Yes, because the two cases are not related. If you cannot return to work for 12 months and you are insured for SSDI you can also apply for SSDI benefits.

What if your own negligence led to your severe brain injuries? You may not be able to file an injury claim against the other driver because they were not at fault for your injuries, but the Social Security Administration will not care that your negligence caused your injuries. You can still apply for SSDI benefits if you cannot work and you are insured for SSDI.
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