March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time to place the spotlight on those living with brain injuries and the challenges they face. In this post, we’re going to focus on one area in particular: Social Security disability benefits available for those who are unable to work due to a traumatic brain injury.
A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a head injury that impairs the normal function of the brain. The Social Security Administration defines a traumatic brain injury as “damage to the brain resulting from a skull fracture, collision with an external force leading to a closed head injury, or penetration by an object that enters the skull and makes contact with brain tissue.”
The neurological and mental impairments resulting from a TBI often exhibit a wide range of symptoms and signs. These can include:
- Headaches that get more severe or won’t go away
- Difficulty concentrating
- Nausea, vomiting
- Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
- Enlargement of the pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes
- Convulsions or seizures
- Abnormal behavior
The rate and extent of recovery can vary widely, making it difficult to predict a long-term outcome. Not all head injuries result in TBIs. The actual severity of the impairments resulting from the TBI may not become apparent until several months after the injury took place. In some cases, the impairments caused by the TBI may appear to improve and then worsen, or, conversely, they could appear worse immediately following the injury but improve over time. Neurological impairments generally stabilize more rapidly than mental impairments.
Qualifications for SSA Disability Benefits for a Traumatic Brain Injury
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits because of a traumatic brain injury, an individual must exhibit at least one of the following symptoms:
- Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities, persisting for at least 3 consecutive months after the injury.
- Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following areas of mental functioning, persisting for at least 3 consecutive months after the injury:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
To make their decision, the SSA generally required evidence from at least 3 months after the TBI to evaluate whether an individual has the disorganization of motor function or the impact a TBI has on an individual’s physical and mental functioning.
Your Claim for Social Security Benefits Has Been Denied — What Do You Do Now?
Just because your claim for Social Security disability benefits was denied, doesn’t mean the process is over. In a lot of instances, claims are denied not because the applicant isn’t disabled enough to qualify for benefits, but simply because the applicant failed to provide the proper information the SSA needed to make a favorable decision.
Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law by the National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, attorney M. Stanley Whitehead has helped clients with TBIs and other disabling conditions obtain the benefits they need and deserve, even after their original application for benefits had been denied. M. Stanley Whitehead has the experience and skills to submit an appeal that fully documents your disability and demonstrates to the SSA your inability to perform work of any kind.
Don’t delay in reaching out to Social Security disability attorney M. Stanley Whitehead. Strict deadlines apply for filing an appeal; if you wait too long you the SSA may refuse to reconsider your claim.