If you’ve been disabled and your disability prevents you from working, what benefits may be available to you? That answer will depend on a number of factors, and you’ll need to speak with a Winter Haven disability attorney to make sure that you understand all of your options.
The factors that will determine whether you are eligible for disability benefits – and if so, what kind of disability benefits – include:
- Is your disability permanent or temporary?
- If your disability is temporary, when can you expect to return to work?
- Did the injury that disabled you happen on the job or away from your job?
- Was the injury that disabled you caused by another person’s negligence?
If you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, your age will be a consideration along with the number of years you’ve worked and paid Social Security taxes. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits you may qualify for.
Who Qualifies for SSD or SSI Benefits?
Obtaining SSI or SSD benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a challenge. The SSA scrutinizes each application for benefits to determine if the applicant qualifies. SSD and SSI benefits are approved only if your disability is “severe, long-term,” and “total.”
A disability is “severe” if you cannot perform basic job-related tasks. “Long-term,” as defined by the SSA, means the disability is expected to last for at least a year, and applicants with a “total” disability cannot perform what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” for at least a year.
As of 2022, “substantial gainful activity” is defined by the Social Security Administration as earning $1,350 or more in a month (or earning $2,260 or more in a month if you’re blind).
What if You Are Expected to Recover Quickly?
While there are several other requirements, only those with long-term disabilities may qualify for SSI or SSD benefits. If your medical providers expect you to be back to work within a year, you will not be eligible to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.
A Winter Haven disability lawyer can determine if you may be eligible for either SSD or SSI benefits and will help you apply for those benefits. Most initial applications are rejected, but disability benefits are often granted to applicants who appeal that initial rejection.
However, if your prognosis is for a full recovery in less than a year, you will need to consider your other options for disability benefits. If you were injured at work in the “course and scope” of your employment duties, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
After a job-related injury, workers’ compensation in Florida pays an injured worker’s medical bills, and it partially replaces lost wages (the rate is two-thirds of the worker’s average regular wages) for up to two years or until the employee can go back to work.
A Winter Haven disability attorney will make sure your workers’ compensation application is complete and accurate. If your application for workers’ compensation benefits is denied, your disability attorney will handle an appeal of that decision.
If you sustain a work-related injury:
- Seek or summon medical attention immediately.
- Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
- Before you apply for worker’s compensation, consult a workers’ compensation lawyer.
If you are injured on the job and you are permanently disabled, you will probably qualify for long-term workers’ compensation benefits, and some disabled persons in Florida may be able to receive workers’ compensation and SSI or SSD benefits simultaneously.
Can You Take Legal Action?
If someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or recklessness is the reason why you are injured and disabled, you should speak to a Winter Haven personal injury attorney about your right to recover compensation with a personal injury claim.
If you were injured and disabled in a traffic accident that was not your fault, in a slip-and-fall incident on private property, or in any other accident scenario, you may be entitled by law to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and related losses.
Usually, that compensation is not automatic, and you will need to have a Winter Haven disability lawyer advise and represent you. If negligence was involved, or if you’re not sure, contact a lawyer at once after you’ve been injured and then examined and/or treated by a medical provider.
What Will an Injury Attorney Do on Your Behalf?
Florida has specific legal requirements for personal injury cases arising from traffic accidents. If you are not taken to the hospital or treated at the scene, for example, you must undergo a medical exam within fourteen days, or you cannot be compensated for traffic accident-related injuries.
A personal injury attorney can explain how Florida law applies to your own case and what will be required of you. Your attorney will identify the liable party or parties and negotiate a settlement that’s fair and acceptable to all parties involved.
At least, that’s how most personal injury claims are resolved, but if your claim is disputed or if no acceptable settlement offer is forthcoming, your attorney will take your claim to trial, explain to a jury how you were disabled, and ask that jury to order the payment of your compensation.
What Are Your Other Options for Disability Benefits?
If your disability is short-term, if you were not injured at work, and if you were not injured by another person’s negligence, your options for disability benefits are limited. Many employers, however, offer short-term disability insurance as part of the employee benefits package.
If your employer does not provide short-term disability insurance, it may be purchased separately. Short-term disability insurance covers a portion of your salary after you’ve used your sick days due to an illness, surgery, injury, or childbirth.
The amount of benefits you may receive through short-term disability insurance varies with the specific type of plan, but most short-term disability insurance plans provide benefits for up to a year.
When Should You Contact a Disability Attorney?
If you have been disabled – permanently or temporarily – and you need disability benefit payments, schedule a consultation with a disability attorney in Winter Haven immediately or as soon as a doctor confirms that you’ve been disabled.
Depending on your personal situation, you may have other options for disability benefits. Your attorney will determine which type of disability benefits are right for you and will help you obtain those benefits.
But the first step is yours. Every day that you wait is a day you are not receiving the benefits that are rightfully yours. If you need to receive disability benefits or to learn more about disability benefits in Florida, make the call – today – to a central Florida disability lawyer.