Approximately 700,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke each and every year. While many of these individuals only suffer from limited or temporary effects, others face long-term or permanent disabilities as a result of their stroke. Unfortunately, these disabilities often lead to an inability to work. The resulting loss of income and lack of employer-provided medical benefits can be financially devastating. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits can offset some of the financial crisis caused by a disability due to a stroke. If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke and are unable to work due to the physical limitations that the stroke has caused, the following information can help you understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates stroke-related disability claims.
Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident) - Condition and Symptoms
A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, occurs when impaired blood flow to the brain causes a lack of oxygen, resulting in damage or death to the brain cells. There are four types of strokes an individual may suffer from including a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), cerebral thrombosis, cerebral embolism and cerebral hemorrhage. Approximately 70 percent of strokes are ischaemic strokes. The remaining 30 percent of strokes are a combination of hemorrhagic strokes and ischaemic attacks.
When a person suffers from a transient ischaemic attack (also known as a mini-stroke), the stroke lasts less than 24 hours and the oxygen returns to the brain quickly. The effects of this type of stroke are normally temporary and the symptoms generally disappear in time. Individuals who experience a transient ischaemic stroke normally do not need Social Security Disability benefits. Those who suffer from more severe forms of stroke, however, often face long-term or permanent disabilities and may need Social Security Disability benefits in order to make ends meet.
Those who suffer from cerebral thrombosis have a blood clot in an artery that supplies blood to the brain. The clot prevents the blood from getting to the brain, depriving the brain of the oxygen needed to function. As a result, the brain cells become damaged and some brain cells may die. A cerebral embolism is similar to cerebral thrombosis except the blood clot forms elsewhere in the body and then travels to the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain. The clot actually lodges into the brain itself. Once in the brain, the clot prevents oxygen from reaching the blood cells. With a cerebral hemorrhage, a blood vessel inside the brain bursts and blood seeps into the brain, which results in damage to the brain cells.
When a person is suffering from a stroke, it is crucial that medical treatment be obtained as soon as possible. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the more serious the affects of the stroke can become. The most common signs of a stroke include, weakness down one side of the body, weakness down one side of the face, impaired speech, difficulty swallowing, loss of coordination, vision loss, severe head pain and confusion.
The long-term effects of a stroke will depend on which area of the brain had been affected during the stroke and how soon medical attention was obtained. In some cases, a person who has suffered from a stroke may experience long-term problems with paralysis, speech, vision, balance, swallowing and breathing.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident)
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits due to a stroke the SSA will refer to a published listing of guidelines referred to as the Blue Book. Strokes are covered under Section 11.4 of these guidelines.
In order to qualify for disability benefits under this section, your condition must be evaluated after three months of the date of your stroke and you must have experienced a significant loss of your ability to communicate effectively or you must have experienced a loss of motor function due to paralysis, paresis or tremor. These physical limitations must affect at least two of your limbs in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits under the SSA's published Blue Book guidelines.
Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident) and Your Social Security Disability Case
If you have suffered a stroke and your condition meets the published SSA guidelines, your claim for Social Security Disability benefits may be approved during the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process. If your initial claim for benefits is denied, you may still qualify for benefits but you will need to go through the Social Security Disability appeals process.
If you are filing an initial claim due to disability benefits or have already been denied, you should consider retaining the services of a Social Security Disability attorney. Working with a qualified attorney can increase your chances of receiving a favorable decision in your disability claim. This is especially important during the hearing stage of the appeal process. Statistics show that applicants who have legal representation are more likely to be awarded benefits than those who do not.
For more information, visit our page on tips for applying for disability benefits after a stroke.