For millions of Americans, living with a disability means being unable to earn an income. The complications and symptoms of many types of long-term disabilities can make it difficult or impossible to complete job tasks. When these complications are severe enough to make it impossible for a person to work with or without reasonable accommodations, social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits can help make ends meet.
SSDI is a program that is intended to help those who have worked in the past. The insurance program is offered to people who are expected to be unable to work due to a disability for a minimum of 12 months. The federal government collects SSDI funds through paycheck deductions, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines whether applicants are qualified to receive benefits. The purpose of this program is to help those who cannot work pay for basic necessities including housing, utilities and food.
Organic brain dysfunction (OBD) is a blanket term for conditions that affect cognitive function without being connected to a psychiatric disorder. OBD may be caused by degenerative disorders related to the brain. For example, people who suffer from Alzheimer’s may also have OBD as a result of the disease. Brain trauma can also result in OBD.
A reduction in cognitive function manifests through loss of memory, changes in mood or personality, difficulty understanding words and trouble completing routine activities. Medical professionals are able to provide a prognosis for the condition based on the underlying cause. Doctors are not always able to find a cause, so it may be difficult to determine whether a person will recover from OBD. If the underlying cause is degenerative, symptoms and complications are permanent.
Treatment of OBD depends on the underlying cause. Pain medication may be prescribed to treat chronic headaches related to brain trauma. In temporary cases, brain rest is used to give a person the opportunity to recover. Brain rest involves abstaining from activities like attending school and reading. When dysfunction is related to an infection in the brain, antibiotics are prescribed. In rare and extreme cases, brain surgery may be necessary.
People with a permanent form of OBD can qualify for benefits under the SSA’s listing for organic mental disorders. However, approval of a benefits application depends on whether a person provides adequate evidence that the condition exists. For OBD, a date of diagnosis is required. In addition, the results of any tests used to measure cognitive limitations should be provided.
Tests may be administered to determine whether an applicant’s cognitive function has been reduced. For example, I.Q. tests and tests that evaluate memory may be compared with past results for an individual to determine whether a marked difference can be observed. Depending on the type of OBD, the SSA may have a specific listing under which a person can qualify for benefits. All applicants are required to provide detailed medical records that have been completed by a licensed medical professional.
Going through the SSDI benefits application process without help is stressful. Many people who try to apply on their own feel overwhelmed by the task. The SSA maintains specific filing requirements that can be difficult for individuals to meet without the help of an experienced professional. SSDI attorneys are knowledgeable when it comes to meeting the requirements set forth by the SSA. These legal professionals are able to guide clients through the process of filling out paperwork, gathering medical evidence and filing components of the application on time. The first step to a less stressful application process is to consult with an attorney.