Once every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers from a stroke. Caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, strokes can have severe lasting symptoms such as pain, impaired speaking and writing ability, numbness, lack of motor control, intellectual deficits, or vision and hearing loss.
If you have suffered from a stroke and are no longer capable of working or supporting yourself, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits, created to provide monthly assistance to those in severe need. If you think disability benefits may be right for you, continue below to see how to apply.
Step One: Determine how much your stroke limits you.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) handles thousands of disability applications a year. For your application to be approved, it is important to show that your disability is severe enough to need their continued monthly financial support. To do this, you must first analyze all the ways your stroke has affected your daily life.
For example, strokes have the potential to cause a loss of motor function in the legs and arms. For someone who used to work in construction, it may be impossible to return to their job without the ability to walk around or grasp objects properly. Or, for someone who suffered numbness in their lower body, bowel control may become an issue and require accommodations that prevent them from frequently leaving the house.
If the lasting symptoms of your stroke make working life and daily life painful or more difficult, Social Security is more likely to approve you for benefits.
Step Two: Get test results confirming the severity of your condition.
Strokes vary greatly in severity from case to case. This means it is impossible to determine an applicant’s health status merely by saying they had a stroke. When applying for benefits, it is important to provide the SSA with as much physical evidence as possible of your stroke and its symptoms to prove it is severe enough to hinder you.
The best place to start looking is the “Blue Book”, Social Security’s disability guidebook, which can be found online. For example, the Blue Book addresses strokes under section 11.04, which states that all strokes severely impairing speaking/writing ability OR preventing motor function in at least two extremities automatically qualify for disability benefits with proper tests.
If your stroke diagnosis is not listed in the Blue Book, this doesn’t mean you are disqualified from receiving benefits. When applying, provide as many tests as possible that can objectively show the severity of your stroke (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, limited mobility tests, documented therapy sessions, inpatient records, etc.) to increase your chances of receiving benefits.
Step Three: Gather tax info, work history, and prepare to fill out the application.
Before applying for benefits, you should prepare as much information about your life and history as possible. Two of the most important additional documents you must provide are your tax information and your past work history.
Tax information allows the SSA to see how much money you have contributed to Social Security in your years of work. Depending on your age, you must have contributed a certain amount of money (called “credits”) to Social Security in order to qualify. Work history is also provided to show the SSA what types of work you have experience in, when/if you stopped working, and whether or not your illness prevents you from working similar jobs.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
Applying for disability benefits can be tedious and occasionally overwhelming. If you feel that you may qualify for disability benefits, it is wise to consult with a disability advocate or attorney during the process. They are an irreplaceable resource when filing out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary. It is also required by law that disability attorneys do not receive payment unless you win your case.
To give yourself the best chance at receiving the assistance you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today.