Our brains are very fragile, and damage to this essential organ can cause lifelong suffering. There are many types of brain-related disorders that are listed in the Social Security Association’s Blue Book for determining disabilities. Both types of benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), may be granted for brain issues.
Traumatic brain injuries (otherwise known as TBI) are one of the most common issues for which individuals file applications for disability benefits. Many accidents leave people with severe injuries in which the head suffers the brunt of the damage, leading to TBI. Injuries to the brain often lead to various disabilities that hinder a person from working their regular jobs or leading a normal life.
You may have to seek financial assistance by claiming disability benefits because of your inability to continue working and provide for your family. Damage to the brain can have so many adverse effects on the body, including hampering movement, cognitive functions, and emotional health. If you can satisfy certain criteria, you may be able to qualify for SSDI or SSI for your TBI.
Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. Seeking a proper diagnosis and medical records from qualified doctors can help you make sure that your benefits claim is strong. The mild symptoms relating to TBI may include spells of dizziness, frequent headaches, and memory loss. The severe symptoms relating to TBI can be more devastating and have the potential to impair one’s ability to speak and communicate effectively.
The effects of a TBI can vary from person to person. Not all TBI victims can qualify for disability benefits because the Social Security Administration follows strict criteria for defining disabling conditions. To determine your eligibility, you can check the listings of the Blue Book, which is publicly available.
TBI can be categorized as mild or severe. Mild TBI, also known as a concussion, most commonly occurs when a person does not lose consciousness after a head injury or loses consciousness for less than 30 minutes.
Even though concussions are classified as mild TBI, they may still be accompanied by severe cognitive impairments, such as loss of memory, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and headaches. In general, mild TBIs are responsible for 80 percent of all brain injuries.
Severe TBI generally occurs when the individual loses consciousness for more than 30 minutes. In addition, severe TBI may result in serious cognitive impairments, such as abnormalities in speech and language, inadequate skills in abstract thinking, and lack of motor skills.
A person who experiences a TBI may experience symptoms for several months or years, including sleep disturbances, constant headache, poor memory, short attention span, and depression. You can apply for short-term disability benefits if these issues cause you serious trouble, including making it difficult to earn a living for a short time period. You can seek the assistance of a legal professional to learn about the options available to you.
When you get diagnosed with a disability relating to a TBI, your doctor would reach the diagnosis after performing a series of tests. This medical documentation will be required when you submit your application for disability benefits. Some of these diagnostic tests may include MRIs, CAT scans, and physical examinations by specialists in the field.
Neuroimaging will enable the doctors to assess the extent of the brain damage that has occurred as a result of the TBI. Doctors may even request that the patient undergo neuropsychological testing to assess whether they have experienced any cognitive deficits.
Disabilities relating to TBI are generally categorized under neurological disorders, which also may include:
Individuals who do not have lasting physical problems but still have neurocognitive disorders may still qualify for TBI disability benefits. However, if the TBI caused only minor cognitive impairment, then you are less likely to be eligible for SSA-administered disability benefits.
If you do not qualify for the TBI listing, the Social Security Administration will quantify your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether you can do your current job, regardless of your physical and mental limitations. Your RFC describes your maximum work-based abilities along with your limitations.
If your present job is quite taxing and is difficult to perform given your new limitations, the SSA will review your work history, age, RFC, and education to determine whether you can do another job that is less physically or mentally demanding.
When the SSA is convinced that your RFC does not allow you to engage in gainful employment, you may be able to obtain a medical-vocational allowance. Many people apply for disability after age 55, and they may qualify more easily as compared to others who are younger. This is because a separate set of rules are applicable for them.
To prove your disability, you will need to provide the SSA with your medical records from the emergency room, clinic notes from your visits to doctors’ offices, notes from your therapists, radiological reports, neuropsychological testing, and IQ testing to demonstrate the extent to which the damage caused by the TBI limits your abilities.
A TBI can also cause other emotional and psychological impacts, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The SSA will evaluate all of the documents that you submit to support your diagnosis in determining whether you are eligible for benefits.
To learn more about every step involved in this journey, you can speak with an experienced disability lawyer. Make sure you choose someone who has handled TBI cases in the past. They will better understand how to prepare a compelling application for benefits based on the limitations you suffer.