Does Traumatic Brain Injury Qualify for Social Security Disability?
Traumatic brain injuries are relatively common in the United States, with about 1.5 million people reporting new injuries each year. TBIs vary significantly in severity and prognosis, which can make it difficult to file for SSD/SSI benefits or otherwise get the financial support you need. While some traumatic brain injuries heal in a matter of months without intervention, others change an individual’s mobility and work capacity for the rest of their life.
If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury and you’re interested in applying for SSD benefits, we’re here to help. Call Walton Law at 251-455-5819 to schedule a consultation now.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The brain is an extremely delicate organ, but it’s also very resilient. While it can be damaged fairly easily, it also has impressive plasticity. This refers to the brain’s ability to heal itself and use other parts of the brain to make up for damage in other areas. Some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Vehicle accidents. Car accidents are one of the most common causes of TBIs. Even a simple rear-end accident can cause a concussion and leave you with pain, disorientation, and other issues.
- Falls. Victims who slip and fall, fall while in the shower, or fall from heights are all at risk of traumatic brain injuries.
- Assault. Stabbings, gunshot wounds, and blunt force trauma can all lead to traumatic brain injuries. In children, shaken baby syndrome is a common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- Combat injuries. Those in the military often suffer from TBIs as a result of their time spent in combat. Being near explosions can cause permanent brain damage in veterans.
- Sports. Some sports, including football, MMA, and hockey can cause traumatic brain injuries among adults and children.
Traumatic brain injuries are generally categorized into mild, moderate, and severe categories. While mild injuries generally heal with little to no medical intervention, moderate injuries will require some medical care and significant rest. Those who suffer severe traumatic brain injuries may never fully recuperate, which means that they will need extensive medical care and therapy to reach maximum medical improvement.
Traumatic Brain Injuries in the Blue Book
Traumatic brain injuries are listed in the Social Security “blue book” under 11.18. This category has very specific requirements you must meet to receive disability benefits for a TBI.
You can qualify under the first heading if you have disorganization of motor function in two extremities. This must lead to an extreme limitation in your ability to stand up from a sitting position, balance while walking or standing, or use your arms. These symptoms must last for at least three months after your injury.
You can also qualify under the second heading. You must have marked limitations in your physical functioning for at least three months after the injury and have limitations in one or more of these categories:
- Recalling, using, and comprehending information
- Interacting with people
- Concentrating or sticking to a task
- Managing yourself
This listing is primarily for those whose traumatic brain injuries leaves them with physical limitations. If your traumatic brain injury keeps you from working because of mental limitations, you’ll need to look at the listing for neurocognitive disorders. This listing is primarily for those whose TBI has affected their ability to create and retain memories, speak or otherwise communicate, display eye-hand coordination, and use executive function to carry out daily tasks.
Your Residual Functioning Capacity
These requirements are fairly strict, and even if you don’t meet them, your injury might be serious enough to keep you from working full-time. Just because you don’t meet the requirements in the blue book does not mean that you can’t receive benefits. It simply means that you may need to do a little more to prove the extent of your disability.
The other way to qualify for Social Security disability benefits is to have Social Security measure your RFC, otherwise known as your residual functioning capacity. By measuring your RFC, the SSA figures out whether or not you are able to continue working in your current field with your limitations. If you cannot, they will look at your skills and background to see if there are other options available to you. If there are no other options, you can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Discuss Your Disability Case with Walton Law
If a traumatic brain injury has affected your ability to work, it’s time to discuss your options with a disability attorney. Schedule a consultation with Walton Law by contacting our team online or giving us a call at 251-455-5819.