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What is the true cost of a spine injury?

Every year, thousands of Americans suffer from spinal cord injuries. These injuries may occur in car wrecks, workplace accidents, or medical conditions. Regardless of the exact cause, a spinal cord injury can leave a victim with a life that is far different from what they once considered normal. They may be left totally or partially paralyzed, and their motor and bodily functions may be jeopardized. While it can be extremely challenging to overcome this sudden and drastic shift in one's daily life, causing serious physical and emotional pain, it can also be financially devastating.

The exact cost of caring for a spinal cord injury depends on a number of factors. Chief amongst them is the type and severity of injury suffered. Incomplete tetraplegia, for example, which makes up 45 percent of all spinal cord injuries, can cost as much as nearly $1.1 million in the first year following the injury's onset. Each subsequent year can cost approximately $185,000. An individual who suffers High Tetraplegia and is 25 years old can expect to spend nearly $5 million over their lifetime paying for medical expenses and living costs.

These figures are startling, and they don't even take into account lost wages, which over the lifetime of an individual can be quite significant. Therefore, for many spinal cord injury sufferers, they are facing upwards of millions of dollars in expenses with no income to pay for any of it.

Fortunately, those who are disabled by a spinal cord injury and are deemed unable to work may be able to recoup some of their losses through Social Security disability. To obtain SSD benefits though, disabled individuals need to show that they meet the federal requirements laid out by the Social Security Administration. To learn how to best approach this, disabled individuals may want to speak with an experienced attorney.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, "Costs of living with SCI," accessed on Nov. 7, 2016

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