Workplace violence is increasing, especially among workers who deal directly with the general public. Healthcare workers often experience workplace assaults. The pandemic and discontent over masking and vaccination policies have exposed other workers to violent incidents. Injuries from violence are often disabling.
If you are a survivor of workplace violence, you should be aware that you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Generally, people with significant work histories qualify for SSDI. Those who don’t have enough qualifying work credits can apply for SSI.
That said, you only qualify for Social Security Disability if you are fully disabled from working and are expected to be in that condition for at least a year. Social Security Disability does not offer partial or short-term disability benefits.
How does the Social Security Administration define disability?
In order to qualify for benefits through Social Security Disability, you must be completely unable to work. That means these three statements must all be true:
- You can’t do the work you did before because of your medical condition
- You can’t adjust to other work because of your medical condition
- Your medical condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year or will result in your death
If you don’t think those three statements apply to you, you could still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits or private disability insurance.
In addition to being able to say the three statements above are true for you, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step process for determining if you are disabled for the purposes of Social Security Disability.
The first step is to ask if you are working. If you are able to earn more than an average of $1,310 per month, you are generally not considered disabled for Social Security Disability purposes.
The second step is to ask if your condition is “severe.” In order for it to be considered severe, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do any basic work-related activities, such as standing, walking, sitting, lifting or remembering for at least a year. If it does not, you are generally not considered disabled.
The third step is to find out whether your medical condition is found on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions. Most major conditions are included in this list, but your claim can still proceed if yours is not. It just means that the SSA will have to consider your case individually.
The fourth step is to ask whether you can do your previous type of work. If you cannot, the SSA proceeds to the final step.
The final step is to ask if you can do any other type of work. To make this determination, the SSA will consider your medical condition(s), your age, your past work experience, your education level and any transferrable skills you may have. If the SSA determines that you can still work, you will generally not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. However, there are special situations where you might still qualify.
If you are concerned that your Social Security Disability application might be denied, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. The fees attorneys can charge for Social Security Disability services are low and limited by law, so there is little to lose from asking for help.
If your application has already been denied, do not panic or give up. Many legitimate Social Security Disability applications are initially denied for a wide variety of reasons. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can help you appeal the denial.