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Whiplash and Social Security Disability

Whiplash, also known as cervical acceleration-deceleration, is a name applied to a variety of neck injuries which are caused by rapid and sudden neck distortion. It is most commonly caused by car accidents, though it can be caused by anything which causes the neck to snap forward and backward suddenly. Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Sensory disturbances (arms and legs feel like they are being poked with needles)
  • Headaches

Symptoms of whiplash may occur immediately after the accident which caused them or they may not become evident for several days (or even weeks) after the accident which caused the condition. The majority of whiplash injuries heal in a matter of two months or less, but some cases result in long term (even lifelong) injuries.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability with Whiplash

In some cases, whiplash injuries result in significant long term disabilities. If you have suffered from whiplash symptoms which have made it impossible for you to work and those symptoms are expected to keep you from working for a year or more, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits such as SSDI and SSI.

The symptoms of whiplash can affect both your physical and mental capacities for work. The pain and stiffness which are often the result of whiplash can make physical work impossible. The headaches, fatigue, and anxiety which often follow whiplash injuries can make it unrealistic for you to perform even the most sedentary jobs.

Unfortunately, there is not a specific listing for whiplash in the Social Security’s Blue Book (listing of impairments). While this does NOT mean that you can’t get disability benefits based on whiplash, it does mean that there are not cut and dried criteria for the SSA’s personnel to use in order to determine whether claimants qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on whiplash.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on whiplash, you need to show that:

  • Your condition meets (is equivalent to) the guidelines laid out in the Blue Book for other conditions. Most of the conditions the SSA personnel will use for comparative purposes are in Section 1.0 (Musculoskeletal System), particularly the sections dealing with the neck and major joints.
  • The symptoms of your condition are severe enough that you cannot reasonably be expected to function in any job which you have performed, are qualified for, or could be trained for.
  • Your whiplash condition must be medically verified. This generally includes some form of medical imaging (X-ray, MRI, etc.).
  • Your medical documentation proves that your condition is not expected to improve to the point that you could be expected to work within a year from the date you first became disabled. This generally means being under a doctor’s care for an extensive period of time (at least three months, often longer) and showing that your condition has not sufficiently improved despite following all therapies prescribed.

It is important to continue receiving medical treatment while your claim is being evaluated. Your compliance with your doctor’s orders can have a direct impact on whether your claim is ultimately approved.

Your Whiplash Social Security Disability Case

Most whiplash disability claims are initially denied. You can improve your chances greatly by having a Social Security disability lawyer help you put your claim together. Disability attorneys are familiar with the SSA’s requirements and will be able to present the evidence for your disability claim in ways which are more likely to be approved.

Social Security lawyers can even help you if your claim has already been denied. For further information regarding the best way to proceed with your whiplash Social Security disability claim, contact a local Social Security disability attorney.

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