An estimated 1.7 million people suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States each year. The resulting brain damage can often result in an inability to work, leaving the person who suffers from the injury without a means of supporting themselves or their family. Without an income, the financial stress can become quickly overwhelming. In some cases, Social Security Disability benefits may be able to offset some of the financial burden. If you or someone you know has suffered from a Traumatic Brain Injury and is unable to work because of it, the following information can help you understand the Social Security Disability application process and how a brain injury affects one's eligibility for disability benefits.
Traumatic Brain Injury - Condition and Symptoms
A Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when an individual's head is hit with such force that damage occurs to the brain. A Traumatic Brain Injury may also occur when the head is actually penetrated by a foreign object and the brain becomes damaged as a result of the injury. The severity of brain damage due to a Traumatic Brain Injury will vary from patient to patient. Some cases of Traumatic Brain Injury are very mild, while others can be very severe and may result in permanent brain damage.
Those who have suffered from a Traumatic Brain Injury may experience common symptoms such as lightheadedness, confusion, blurred vision, headache, ringing of the ears, fatigue and mood changes. Others may have trouble with memory and concentration. In some cases, vomiting, nausea and convulsions or seizures may be a sign of a Traumatic Brain Injury. For some people, the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury may get better with time. Other people will experience long-term effects or even permanent brain damage as a result of their injury.
When diagnosing a brain injury your doctor will perform neurological examinations as well as CT scans and X-ray image tests to determine where the damage has occurred and how severe the damage is. You may also need to undergo cognitive testing to determine the exact extent of your injuries. Treatment for a Traumatic Brain Injury may be complicated. While some injuries can be healed, many Traumatic Brain Injuries cannot be corrected once the damage has been done. Speech, physical, occupational and psychiatric therapies may be able to provide some benefit for some patients suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury. For patients who will be disabled for a year or more due to their Traumatic Brain Injury, Social Security Disability benefits may be able to help.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Traumatic Brain Injury
When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits, the disability examiner will refer to a published listing of disability guidelines referred to as the Blue Book. This publication provides qualifying criteria for a wide range of conditions and helps examiners determine whether or not an individual qualifies for Social Security Disability payments. Unfortunately, there is no specific listing for Traumatic Brain Injury in this publication and, as such, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must review each disability claim that is based on a brain injury on a case-by-case basis.
Because the SSA does not have a specific disability listing to refer to when reviewing a disability claim based on Traumatic Brain Injury, they will instead review your residual functional capacity. This means that the examiner who is reviewing your case will determine whether or not you can perform the daily responsibilities necessary to perform substantial gainful work activity.
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits based on a case of Traumatic Brain Injury, make sure you provide as much medical documentation as you can to prove the extent of your disability. Medical records and statements from your treating physicians can go a long way in proving your case to the SSA.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Your Social Security Disability Case
In some cases, those suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury will be approved for disability benefits during the initial stage of the Social Security Disability application process. It is important to remember, however, that only 30 percent of initial applications are actually approved by the SSA. The remaining applicants are denied at this stage of the process and must go on to file an appeal in order to receive the Social Security Disability benefits.
If your disability claim has already been denied or if you are filing an initial claim, consider consulting with a qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Your attorney will discuss your disability claim with you and will help you take the steps necessary to obtain the benefits you deserve. It is important to understand that statistics have shown that those who have legal representation are more likely to receive disability benefits than those who do not.