I just broke my leg, can I get Social Security Disability or SSI while I’m out of work?
Maybe, but you probably have to be out of work for at least twelve months. In order to meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disabled, you must have a severe impairment that lasts for twelve months or more, or is expected to end in death. For an impairment to be severe it must affect your work-related activities more than minimally. A broken leg is likely to be a severe impairment because it will probably affect how much you can lift and carry, how long you can stand up, and how far you can walk before resting, etc. Don’t forget that pesky durational requirement, the impairment must last for twelve months or more, or be expected to end in death. I wouldn’t expect a broken leg to end in death, but who knows! But realistically speaking, you will probably have to be limited by the broken leg for twelve months or more, and not engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) for at least twelve months. See my previous post about SGA here.
Often a broken leg will heal on its own in a matter of a few months. A person with an office-type job may even work while it’s healing. If that is your circumstance, you won’t meet the SSA definition of disabled and you won’t get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But what if you don’t have an office job, the break involved other injuries, and/or there are complications in the healing process? The break could be a complex one, or you could get osteomyelitis (a bone infection) or another complication as a result of a broken bone. These complications may make it impossible to do even an office job. Or, you may have a job that requires physical strength and endurance. If any of these are the case, you have a chance to get benefits based on your disability! The final disability determination will be based on your age, education and work history unless you meet or equal one of SSA’s “listings“. If you have a garden variety broken leg that is expected to heal in a few months, you probably will not get SSDI or SSI. If you’re not sure what your chances are, a good Social Security Disability/SSI Attorney will give you a free consultation and a free assessment of your case. Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be legal advice, it is for general information only. Everyone’s case is different, and everyone’s disability is different.