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Seeking SSD for work-related injuries

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Social Security Disability Insurance often provides support to disabled workers. An Office of Retirement and Disability policy report indicates the SSDI program paid workers $95 billion in 2008. In contrast, each year, workers' compensation programs provide just $60 billion. These figures show that many workers may need and qualify for SSD benefits. However, as any SSD attorney in Tennessee can verify, securing benefits for work-related injuries can be challenging.

Defining 'disabled'

The Social Security Administration uses a strict definition of "disabled." A person only qualifies as disabled if a verifiable medical condition prevents him or her from working gainfully. The disabling condition must prevent the person from resuming prior work or switching to a new type of work. The condition must also be expected to last longer than one year or result in mortality.

Under these criteria, many serious work-related injuries may not be considered disabling. For instance, a debilitating injury that should heal within a year cannot qualify for benefits. A permanent injury, such as an amputation, only qualifies as disabling if it precludes any form of gainful employment.

Non-medical criteria

The SSA also considers financial factors before awarding disability benefits. As an SSD attorney in Tennessee knows, a person must meet the following criteria to receive benefits:

  • The person cannot engage in substantial gainful activity, which is work with monthly income over a certain threshold. In 2015, the SGA limit is $1,090, except for blind individuals, who can earn up to $1,820.
  • The person must be "insured" based on his or her earnings. Each year, the SSA counts quarterly income that exceeds a set threshold as one credit. The number of credits a person has earned determines the person's eligibility for benefits.
  • The person must have an adequate recent work history. The SSA only awards benefits to people who have earned a set amount of credits in recent years. The number of credits needed and the number of years considered depend on the person's age.

If these criteria aren't met, workers who are disabled from a medical standpoint cannot collect benefits.

Offsetting other benefits

Collecting workers' compensation benefits does not prevent workers from receiving SSD benefits, as any SSD attorney in Tennessee understands. However, workers' compensation may impact SSD benefit amounts. Public disability benefits are limited to 80 percent of a worker's prior average wages. SSD benefits may be reduced to ensure this threshold is not exceeded.

In contrast, certain other disability benefits do not affect SSD benefit amounts. Private disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income and VA benefits have no impact on SSD benefits. Workers who collect any of these benefits may also be eligible to collect a full SSD benefit.

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