Social Security, Disability and Brain Injuries

Social Security, Disability and Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury, otherwise known as TBI is an acute injury suffered by the brain. It's causes can be various but the most common are car accidents, falls and fire arms. TBI injuries can range from mild short term amnesia to permanent coma. Some injuries can heal over time while others can be lived with the help of therapy. Still others may just continue to get worse over time.

Social Security, Disability and Brain InjuriesSocial Security for TBI

The Blue Book or Social Security listing of impairments specifically lists TBIs under the cerebral trauma listing. Since TBI can cause a wide range of impairments, the cerebral trauma listing simply refers to the medical guidelines of other impairments. You will automatically be approved for disability for cerebral trauma if your symptoms match the requirements for one of those listings. The listings and requirements are outlined as such:

Epilepsy: All seizure disorders are evaluated under the category of epilepsy. To qualify under this you must have seizures of a particular type and frequency. Your doctor will need to describe a typical seizure and indicate how much of the description is based on their personal observations versus other's.

Central Nervous System Vascular Accident: If you've had one or more strokes you may qualify for disability under this listing. To qualify, you need to have either trouble with speech or communication, and/ or significant and persistent disruption of the use of arms and legs that interferes with using such limbs properly more than three months after the accident.

Organic Mental Disorders: Organic mental disorders are cognitive or emotional changes that result from brain damage. To qualify for this listing, you must show a change in cognitive abilities, disorientation, personality changes or mood changes that limit your daily activities, ability to concentrate or social functioning. Additionally, you may qualify under this listing if your IQ is 15 points less than before your accident or if it is within the severely impaired range on neuropsychological testing.

Ability to Work: Should you not be found eligible by Social Security under any of the above listings, Social Security will evaluate if you are even able to work. Your physical, mental and sensory limitations will be assessed. This assessment will be done using a residual functional capacity form.

Timing: TBIs can be tricky compared to most other illnesses or diseases because of the difficulty of making a long term prognosis. However, Social Security has taken into account the vast variables associated with TBIs. An individual cannot receive benefits until 12 months post injury. However, it is possible to be found disabled at three months post injury. If you're not found disabled at three months post injury, you'll continue to be re-evaluated as evidence of disability is received by Social Security.

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What Impact do Unemployment Benefits Have on Applying for Disability?

What Impact do Unemployment Benefits Have on Applying for Disability?

Waiting for a hearing from an administrative law judge can sometimes take up to a year or more. Therefore, it's not uncommon for many who are waiting for their Social Security Disability Hearing to collect Unemployment Benefits in the mean time. The potential problem with using Unemployment Benefits to make ends meet while waiting for your Social Security Disability Hearing is that you must certify that you're looking for full time employment. Although, searching for work is not necessarily inconsistent with making a Social Security Disability Claim, a judge may consider it so and use it as an excuse to deny your claim.

Not too long ago, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a memorandum to administrative judges stating that "the receipt of unemployment benefits is only one of many factors that must be considered in determining whether the claimant is disabled." Additionally the Supreme Court held in 1999 that a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits is often consistent for a claim for relief under the Americans with Disability Act. This is so even though the ADA requires an ability to work in order to obtain relief under the act.

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The Supreme Court noted that within the logic of the five step sequential evaluation process it's possible for an individual to qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits and also be capable of performing some kind of work. This means similar logic certainly applies to applications for unemployment benefits. It was for this reason that the Chief Administrative Law Judge states, "accordingly, ALJs should look at the totality of the circumstances in determining the significance of the application for unemployment benefits and related efforts to obtain employment."

For more information on similar topics:

Arthritis Sufferers and SSDI Benefits

Do Your Employee’s Wages Violate the Law? (More on the SCA)

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