Natalia Jofre: Welcome to Hill & Ponton’s social security Disability blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, the director for our social security section.
Shelly Mark: I am Shelly Mark. I’m the senior social security attorney with the firm.
Natalia Jofre: As you know, we’re doing a series on workers’ compensation and social security disability benefits. We want to clarify, first of all, I’m not an attorney. I am the director for our social security section. I’ve been here over 20 years. We won’t say specifically how many. Shelly practices social security disability law.
Natalia Jofre: But the information we’re going to give you is all in correlation with workers’ compensation situations and how they could or could not affect your social security Disability benefits. I think that’s important to say.
Shelly Mark: Definitely.
Natalia Jofre: We wanted to talk to you about not working, and when you stop working. When an injury occurs, then what do you do next, because we get a lot of questions. People get hurt at work. At first, it’s like deer in headlights. What do I do now? What do I qualify for? What do I apply for?
Natalia Jofre: Most people will file obviously a claim through workers’ comp with their job. Many times they’ll be able to get benefits through workers’ comp. But we’re going to look at it from the perspective of social security. What social security is going to look at is, are you working right now? If the answer is no, then they can take your application.
Natalia Jofre: What a lot of people will talk to us about is the length of their disability. In order for you to qualify for social security disability benefits, you need to be out of work or expect to be out of work at least 12 months or more. It’s going to depend on your disability and on the severity of it whether you should or could ultimately get disability benefits or not.
Natalia Jofre: If you think that your disability is probably only going to last three months, six months, I broke my leg, I’m going to be out of work for a couple of months, people will ask us, “Can I qualify for temporary benefits?” Right?
Shelly Mark: Right.
Natalia Jofre: And the answer is …
Shelly Mark: No.
Natalia Jofre: Do temporary benefits exist under social security?
Shelly Mark: No, they do not. They would be a workers’ comp claim that someone could file and receive the benefits until they were able to return to their employment, but it definitely would not be a social security claim. As Natalia stated, you have to be out of work for 12 consecutive months to be eligible for social security, or expected to be out of work for 12 months. A lot of times, if it’s expected to be, then we need to be able to prove through the severity of the condition that it’s expected to be or have a doctor that is stating that the person’s expected to be out of work 12 months.
Natalia Jofre: Yeah, so if you’ve been out of work, now what I would say is if you don’t know how long you’re going to be out of work … For example, we had a client who did break his leg. He probably should’ve been able to go back to work after six weeks. He ended up needed surgery. He got infected after the surgery. That ended up complicating it. He ended up needing more than one surgery. It just kept going on, and on, and on, to where he was out of work for well over a year. I think he was out of work for about two years or so.
Natalia Jofre: If you’re unsure how long you’re going to be out of work as a result of a disability, you should still apply right away. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. If you’re certain that you’re going to be out for a short period of time, and you really are inquiring about temporary benefits, then you know that that’s really not an option. But when in doubt, always apply.
Shelly Mark: Definitely.
Natalia Jofre: Yeah. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office or visit our website. Otherwise, we will continue our series on workers’ compensation and social security benefits.
Shelly Mark: Thank you.