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Can I Get Social Security Disability if I Used to Work as a Home Health Care Worker?

Disability Benefits for Home Health Care Workers

Home health care workers are health care or supportive care professionals who provide in-home care to elderly or ailing individuals. These professionals are normally licensed professionals who have gone through extensive training in order to provide the level of care needed to the individuals who are in need of in-home health care services. The job duties performed by home health care workers can vary significantly. Some may provide light housekeeping tasks, including laundry and the changing of bed linens or shopping for groceries. Other tasks may be more involved, such as getting clients out of bed, bathed, dressed and groomed. In many cases, home health care workers help by providing advice to patients and their families regarding the nutrition, hygiene and support of their clients.

Work as a home health care professional can be both physically and mentally challenging. These professionals are oftentimes on their feet for very long periods of time and must be strong enough to lift or carry their patients should the need arise. Home health care workers are also, on occasion, exposed to contagious or infectious material (such as bodily fluids) while on the job. Those who care for patients with mental instabilities may even be subject to unpredictable situations that may require passive methods of self defense.

In addition to being both physically and emotionally up to the challenge, home health care workers must also possess strong problem-solving skills and the ability to make decisions on the go. While these professionals usually work in a private setting, they will need to communicate with patients’ families and medical staff, so the ability to communicate effectively and work with others is also necessary.

While it does not happen frequently, there are occasions when a home health care worker may suffer a long-term or permanent disability while on the job. Back injuries due to lifting and carrying patients are not uncommon. In some cases, diseases that lead to long-term disability may be contracted due to contact with a patient's bodily fluids. When these situations arise, it is not uncommon for a home health care worker to be unable to continue full-time work activity.

Working with a Disability as a Home Health Care Worker

Depending on the type of disability from which you are suffering, you may not be able to find work as a home health care professional due to the limitations your disability places on you. For example, a back injury may prevent you from standing or sitting for long periods of time, and would definitely prevent you from carrying or lifting patients. If you are suffering from a disability that prevents you from performing your routine work activities, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

If it is obvious that the disability you are suffering from has completely prevented you from performing any type of work activity at all, you will be more likely to be awarded disability benefits during the initial stage of the application process. For example, if one of the patients you were working with had shingles and you contracted chicken pox because you never had the vaccine or the disease in the past, you may be expected to be disabled for 12 months or more. In this case, it is likely that you would be awarded disability benefits. If, however, you endured a back injury due to your work activity, you may have a harder time proving that there isn't any type of work activity that you could perform in the national economy.

Applying for Social Security Disability as a Home Health Care Worker

The initial application process for Social Security Disability benefits only takes an average of three to four months to complete. Unfortunately, nearly 70 percent of disability claims are denied during this stage of the claim process. This means that the majority of Social Security Disability recipients must endure the lengthy and complex disability appeal process before being awarded Social Security Disability benefits.

Many home health care workers are denied disability benefits during the initial application stage due to the fact that the adjudicator reviewing the claim decides there is other work in the national economy that the applicant could perform. For example, you may not be able to lift patients anymore or walk around the grocery store shopping for your clients, but they may determine that you could perform a desk job in a related field with a little bit of training. If this happens, your Social Security Disability benefits will be denied.

Working with a Social Security Disability advocate or attorney can actually increase your chances of being awarded the disability benefits you may be entitled to. Your attorney or advocate will work with you in the preparation of your disability claim, ensuring the SSA understands the extent of your disability and how it completely prevents you from performing any type of work in the national economy.