Generally speaking, you can’t get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for a broken bone – or even several broken bones.
This fact comes as an unpleasant surprise to a lot of people who find themselves temporarily unable to work (or even take care of themselves without help) due to broken arms and broken legs. That’s because the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a pretty rigid definition of what it means to be disabled, and one of the requirements is that your disability has to either last or be expected to last at least 12 months (or end in death). Most broken bones heal within a few months.
What happens, however, when they don’t?
Roughly 20% of broken bones don’t heal properly, ending in either a malunion or nonunion defect, and these can be quite disabling:
- Malunion fractures: These are broken bones that don’t return to their normal position when they heal. It may heal at a twisted angle or leave the sufferer with one limb shorter than the other. When a limb or hand is involved, the abnormal angle or length of the healed bone can cause serious problems with mobility and function.
- Nonunion fractures: This is a broken bone that just won’t completely heal. Sometimes the sufferer’s body has trouble producing the material that’s needed for complete healing, often because the sufferer has an autoimmune condition or is elderly.
In both cases, the end result is that the sufferer may be in for an extensive series of corrective surgeries, physical therapy, occupational rehab and more – if they can heal at all. They may simply be left with permanent disabilities that cannot be corrected. In those situations, SSDI can be successfully claimed.