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Can you get Social Security Disability for a broken limb?

Accidents happen and it doesn’t take much more than a trip over a curb to wind up with a broken limb — or maybe two broken limbs. If you suddenly find yourself with both arms or both legs in a cast, however, you can’t count on Social Security Disability benefits to help you out unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Why won’t Social Security usually help you out with a disability benefit for a broken limb? Unlike disability programs through private insurers, there’s no such thing as “temporary” Social Security Disability. The system is only designed to pay benefits to people whose disabilities are:

  • Expected to last a minimum of 12 continuous months
  • Expected to end in death (like terminal cancer)

People who have any type of condition that’s more fleeting, like a broken limb, are expected to fall back on other social programs and benefits, like workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits and private insurance plans.

However, you may have noted that we said “usually” Social Security won’t help you. There are times when a broken limb or two could end up qualifying you for benefits.

For example, consider this scenario: You’re riding your motorcycle when a car clips you from the side, sending you sprawling. While you’re otherwise fine, your leg is shattered in several places, leaving you unable to return to the construction job you’ve worked for the last 25 years. You have no other job skills that translate to office work. Plus, it turns out that your leg was so badly broken that you need repeated surgeries for placement of metal pins to hold it together. You’re required to keep the leg immobile for long periods of healing time — and then have to go through physical therapy to regain the ability to walk normally again.

All of that could easily take over a year — and more. Since your condition disables you for more than a year, you’re entitled to Social Security Disability benefits during that time — but don’t expect to gain approval without a fight. Social Security generally isn’t eager to grant benefits to anyone for a “simple” broken limb or two.

If you’re struggling to gain approval for your Social Security Disability claim after an injury, an attorney may be able to help.

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