Recently, I helped a claimant win his disability case based on injuries he sustained in a serious car accident. He had been badly injured, underwent surgery, followed by physical therapy. He then had to have a revision of his surgery and suffered for a time with chronic pain, for which he was prescribed narcotic pain medicine and underwent a series of epidural injections to help control his symptoms. Understandably, he became quite depressed during this time and he began seeing a therapist to talk about the ways that chronic pain had interfered with his self worth.
Eventually, after approximately two years, my client’s condition improved. His daily activities increased, the gains he made in physical therapy started to take hold and he could feel his muscles getting stronger and his pain level decreasing. He required less pain medication and he noticed that as his physical symptoms were mitigated, his psychological symptoms decreased as well. Within approximately 26 months, my client returned to work as a truck driver and he continues to work successfully today.
I remember something interesting about my client’s conversation with me after he had been paid retroactive benefits for the time that he could not work. He told me that he almost didn’t apply for disability. He told me that he thought that the disability program was meant only for people with permanent problems and he had always expected to get better. Essentially, he thought Social Security Disability was only for people who could never work again and who had completely lost hope.
After some reflection, I believe that this client was not alone in his belief that disability is only for those who expect to be permanently impaired without significant improvement in their conditions. I believe that many people view this program as a program that exists only for those individuals that will never get better. In reality, in light of advances in medical treatment and technology, many individuals who suffer serious illness get much better after having access to good medical providers. Sometimes it just takes them a little longer.
It is important for disabled individuals to realize that Social Security Disability benefits can be paid to individuals who have been out of work due to their impairments for at least one year. It doesn’t have to be forever. If after a year or more your condition improves and you return to work, you may still qualify for benefits during the time period you were off. This is called a closed period of disability and it seems to me that this may be a more common occurrence than many people realize. It is important, however, that individuals apply for Social Security during the time that they are out of work, since there is a time limit for filing.
If you are an individual who has suffered a serious injury or illness and you have been or you expect to be out of work for at least 12 months, please consider contacting our office for help with your claim. This program is for you too.