If you have a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and are still experiencing symptoms preventing you from returning to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. These benefits may be a way to help offset the financial strain that comes with an unexpected life-altering disability like a TBI. 

Disability Advocates Group helps Los Angeles clients who have experienced a brain injury apply for Social Security disability benefits. Our attorneys understand how difficult it can be to move forward after suffering a serious injury that renders you unable to work and engage in activities you once loved. We offer clients a free case evaluation and assist clients in handling every aspect of their case, from applying for benefits to appealing a denial of benefits.

The Difference Between SSDI and SSI Benefits for Brain Injuries

The Social Security Administration offers two benefits programs for individuals diagnosed with brain injuries and other disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide recipients with monthly compensation. However, they are different benefits programs with different eligibility requirements.

SSDI benefits are based on your work in the last ten years. To qualify, you must show that you have earned enough work credits by paying into the social security system before your brain injury. On the other hand, SSI benefits are intended for applicants with few assets and a low income. To successfully receive SSDI or SSI benefits for your brain injury, you must prove that your brain injury meets the eligibility requirements of a disability. Specifically, you’ll need to show that your brain injury is expected to last at least a year or result in your death.

Pursuing SSDI Benefits for a Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are far more common than many people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur annually in the United States. An estimated 5.3 million Americans are currently living with a traumatic brain injury. These types of injuries can result from a bump, blow, jolt, or penetration of the skull, causing an injury that impairs the brain’s normal function. 

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can be mild or severe. Mild traumatic brain injuries can cause headaches, mood changes, fatigue, confusion, depression, anxiety, problems sleeping and other symptoms. Moderate traumatic brain injuries can cause confusion, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in toes and fingers, and agitation. 

Severe traumatic brain injuries can result in total disability and require a person to have around-the-clock care. Many individuals diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries experience major depression at some point after traumatic brain injury.

TBI Treatments

The treatment needed for a traumatic brain injury will depend on the patient’s unique symptoms. Treatments can vary from emergency surgery to remove the cause of the TBI to rest and rehabilitation. The more severe the injury to a person’s brain, the longer and more complicated his or her recovery process may take. Sometimes, a person may recover within a year with the right medication, surgery, and therapy. However, for many TBI patients, the recovery process is much slower. 

Qualifying for Benefits

The Social Security Administration has created a list of qualifying disabilities, both physical and mental, that qualify an applicant for full monthly benefits. Even if your condition isn’t listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, you may still be eligible for benefits. However, you will need to prove that your condition is severe enough to make you unable to work. 

Traumatic brain injuries are listed in the Blue Book under listing 11.18 (Neurological). If you have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, you will still need to show that your injury results in you experiencing extreme limitations.

What Is the Definition of “Extreme Limitations”?

You still have options if you have not been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. An attorney may be able to help you work with a medical professional who can run diagnostic tests and consider whether you should be diagnosed with a TBI. 

Alternatively, you can provide medical evidence showing that your symptoms are as severe as those associated with a traumatic brain injury. Several different symptoms of brain injuries can constitute extreme limitations. Specifically, the following limitations will be considered extreme limitations by the Social Security Administration:

  • Standing up from a seated position
  • Maintaining balance in a standing position
  • Maintaining balance while walking
  • Using your upper extremities to initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities independently

The assessment of an applicant’s motor function will depend on the degree of interference he or she has when standing up, balancing while standing or walking, or using the upper extremities.

Appealing a Denial of SSDI Benefits

It’s common for the Social Security Administration to deny SSDI applications. If you receive a letter stating that your claim has been denied, it’s crucial that you reach out to an attorney. You have a limited time to request a reconsideration of your case. 

A disability attorney can help you know your rights and prepare evidence from doctors proving that your brain injury meets the requirements. An attorney can also prepare your claim for a hearing. At the hearing, you and your attorney can present evidence showing that your symptoms prevent you from working and that your brain injury is expected to last for at least a year. 

Learn More About Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits

If you are following your doctor’s advice about your TBI recovery and you’re still unable to work because of your symptoms, it’s important that you speak to an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Disability Advocates Group have extensive experience helping patients with traumatic brain injuries apply for and obtain SSDI and SSI benefits. 

If you’ve already applied for benefits and received notice that your application has been denied, we can help you through the appeals process. Don’t hesitate to contact Disability Advocates Group to schedule a complimentary case evaluation and learn more about how we can help you.