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Receiving SSD benefits for a brain injury

Even though brain injuries have gotten increasing attention over the years, there is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding what constitutes a brain injury, how it is acquired, and what its effects are. Essentially, the term "traumatic brain injury" refers to any acute injury to the brain. The effects of a brain injury can vary widely because the injury may be relatively minor and cause only mild or temporary symptoms or it can be a serious injury that causes lasting effects and permanent disability.

Many people with brain injuries experience significant limitations on their physical and mental abilities and are no longer able to work. In certain qualifying cases, a person may be able to receive disability-related benefits from the Social Security Administration, including social security disability benefits for injury. There are essentially two disability benefits programs that can provide financial assistance to people who have suffered a brain injury and are no longer able to work: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.

In order to receive benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program, an applicant must have worked and paid into the system through Social Security income taxes for a requisite period of time. In addition to those financial and work requirements, an applicant must also qualify medically. Applicants who intend to apply for benefits based on a TBI should consult the SSA blue book, which is a guidebook of disabling conditions recognized by the Social Security Administration. The conditions related to a traumatic brain injury are listed in section 11.18.

There are four categories of brain-related conditions that can qualify a person for benefits: convulsive epilepsy, non-convulsive epilepsy, central nervous system vascular accident (stroke), and organic mental disorders. If an applicant has one of these specific conditions, the qualification process may be simpler. However, even applicants without one of those specific listings may qualify for benefits if the symptoms experienced by the applicant are consistent with the symptoms of one of those listings. Some of the most relevant symptoms for brain injury applicants include frequent seizures, trouble communicating, trouble understanding directions, difficulty in walking, lifting, pulling, grabbing or sitting, and difficulty with social interactions or common workplace changes.

Source: Brain Injury Alliance Colorado, "Do You Qualify for SSDI?: Applying for Disability benefits after a Traumatic Brain Injury," Molly Clarke, Aug. 14, 2013

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