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Can temporary injuries count as a disability?

Frequent readers of this blog know that normally a New Jersey resident must have a long-term issue - an issue likely to persist for at least a year - for the Social Security Administration to classify the impairment as a disability. But is that always true? Can some short-term injuries count as a disability too?

The answer, at least in some cases, is yes. For example, a federal court has looked at a person who broke both of their legs and could not work for seven months. Under those circumstances, the person was disabled, according to the court.

The person worked as a government contractor. As part of his job, he needed to visit work sites during business hours. One day he fell while getting off a commuter train, seriously injuring both of his legs. This injury required multiple surgeries to repair. His doctors said it would take no less than seven months for he could walk normally again.

The injury prevented the man from doing site visits. Because of his inability to do the full range of his work, his employer told him to go on short-term disability, terminating him two months later. The man sued and initially lost because the disability was short-term. But on appeal, he won. The appellate court concluded that sufficiently severe short-term injuries qualified for SSDI benefits.

While the ruling offers a hopeful victory for those with severe short-term injuries, the case highlights that seeking SSDI benefits for injuries is not always a smooth process. Many times, New Jerseyans will have to fight for their rights. For help with that, they may benefit from speaking with an experienced disabilities attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Temporary Impairments May Be Covered Disabilities under the ADA," Accessed Nov. 13, 2016

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