Disability Benefits for Stroke Victims

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

A stroke is a serious health event and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Also called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), a stroke occurs when there is a block in the blood flow to the brain. You see, a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, transported by blood flow, to the brain is essential. Even a short stop in blood supply to the brain can lead to devastating brain damage as brain cells will immediately begin to die. When brain cells die, the damage sustained by the brain can lead to difficulty in performing functions that are controlled in the part of the brain that was damaged. This means that strokes can impact a person’s ability to move, speak, process information, control emotions, and more. If the impacts of a stroke have placed functional limitations on a person that prevents them from gainful employment, then they may be able to get access to Social Security disability benefits.

Disability Benefits for Stroke Victims

While most stroke victims are 65 years of age or older, a person may suffer one at any age. A stroke is a serious medical event and, as such, you should be aware of stroke symptoms. If you are experiencing any such symptoms, seek emergency medical attention. Stroke symptoms can include:

  • Weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg
  • Difficulty walking or moving
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Difficult balancing
  • Coordination problems
  • Vision problems
  • Severe headaches
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting

The long-term impacts of a stroke can prevent a person from working. As such, it is possible for a stroke victim to get Social Security disability benefits either through meeting the Social Security’s Blue Book listing for strokes or having functional limitations that prevent them from working at any job. The Social Security Blue Book listing for stroke, or CVA, can be found in the vascular insult to the brain section.

Under the CVA impairment listing in the Blue Book, you will see that this listing requires a disability benefits applicant to provide concrete evidence that they are experiencing at least one of these symptoms:

  • Inability to communicate needs effectively or understand basic commands because of aphasia
  • Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities
  • Marked limitation in physical movement and in one of the following areas of mental functioning:
    • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
    • Interacting with others
    • Concentrating and maintaining pace
    • Adapting and managing oneself

The listing requires that these symptoms be present for the applicant at least three months after the stroke has occurred. In order to successfully apply for disability benefits pursuant to the SSA Blue Book listing, the SSA will require objective, concrete medical evidence that includes things like records from physical examinations as well as test results from stroke diagnostic studies. Additionally, it is important to note that failure to meet the Blue Book listing requirements does not bar a stroke victim from successfully applying for disability benefits. Alternatively, they may qualify for benefits through a medical-vocational allowance.

Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney

Have you suffered a stroke and now find yourself unable to work? Let the trusted team at Disability Advocates Group help you navigate and apply for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.