Applying for Disability for Paralysis
Each year, an average of 11,000 Americans — the majority between the ages of 16 and 30 — suffer a spinal cord injury of some severity. More than half of those injuries will result in full or partial paraplegia or quadriplegia. Losing the use of one’s limbs is a huge blow, both to a person’s sense of self worth and to their ability to provide for themselves and their family.
The good news is, disability for paralysis is available through the SSD and SSI programs. If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, applying for disability benefits can be essential in reducing the stress on your finances during this difficult period of adjustment.
SSD and SSI
Paraplegic Social Security disability benefits are available through both the SSI and SSD programs. Your work history and previous contributions to the Social Security program will determine which program you’re eligible for.
- SSD: The SSD (Social Security Disability) program is considered a “merit based” program (like an insurance policy) and is funded through payroll taxes. If you’ve worked a certain number of hours and paid enough into the Social Security system, you may qualify for paralysis disability benefits under SSD.
- SI (Supplemental Security Income): Because spinal injuries are more common in young people, many do not have the work history to qualify for SSD. People who have not yet paid enough into Social Security may still qualify for benefits under the SSI program. SSI is needs-based, meaning it is open to anyone meeting certain low income requirements.
Children and Paraplegic Disability
Children under the age of 18 who suffer from paraplegia may be eligible under the SSI program based on their parent or guardian’s income work and tax history. When they turn 18, children covered under SSI can have their eligibility reassessed and are able to continue receiving benefits if they are not able to provide for themselves.
Meeting the Criteria for Disability for Paralysis
To qualify for disability, individuals must prove they have suffered damage to the spinal cord which has resulted in pain, limited motion, loss of muscle strength or full paralysis. The injury must also prevent the applicant from working at their full capacity. Conditions relating to paralysis that may contribute to this can include loss of bowel function/bladder control, breathing problems, chronic pain, loss of fitness or depression.
Denied Disability for Paralysis?
Paralysis is a serious ailment, so many applicants who are denied disability for their paralysis are very surprised by the denial. Denials occur more frequently than people realize. There are several reasons why your application for benefits may have been denied:
- There were mistakes on your paperwork
- There was inadequate medical evidence with your application
- Your condition is expected to improve
- The SSA concludes you may be able to work, even with your current condition
- Your condition only leaves you partially paralyzed, and your paralysis does not meet SSA requirements for disability
Regardless of why you were denied, the first step to appeal your denial is to carefully examine the denial letter. If you’re having a hard time understanding it, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco for a consultation.
Lisa M. Ritacco focuses exclusively on SSI, Disability, and workers’ compensation cases. She has worked successfully with many patients who have suffered paralysis and needed to appeal in order to secure their rightful benefits. She understands what it takes to prove your claim and secure the benefits that may be rightfully yours.
Proving Paralysis Disability Eligibility
The Social Security Blue Book lists the impairments for which people will automatically qualify for benefits. This Blue Book also lists the eligibility criteria for all qualifying conditions. For paralysis disability eligibility, the pertinent section is Listing 1.04 (Disorders of the Spine).
According to this listing, you may qualify for benefits automatically if you suffered compression of the nerve root resulting in loss of muscle ability, loss of sensation, loss of reflexes, severe pain, or motion limitations. You may also qualify if you were affected by injury to the spine that has affected the spinal cord but doesn’t necessarily involve fractures of the vertebrae.
In some cases, paralysis is caused by multiple sclerosis or other neurological conditions. If this is the case for you, the Social Security Blue Book lists eligibility benefits under Listing 11.00.
Understanding the definition of paralysis is important. If you don’t meet Blue Book definitions, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you can show your condition affects your ability to perform daily tasks or work. You may need to submit to medical testing or testing of your functionality and mobility. You may also need to submit medical evidence, such as imaging tests, doctors’ reports, and analyses from specialists.
If you’re concerned about your ability to qualify for disability for your paralysis, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco for a free consultation to review your situation. The law office of Lisa M. Ritacco focuses exclusively on disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits, ensuring you work with a legal team who has handled paralysis cases for more than seven years.
Long Term Benefits
Long-term changes are one of the challenges with mobility issues and paralysis. If you have suffered paralysis, you may need care at home and you may lose long-term prospects at work. You may worry about significant bills and you may think you will never be able to return to work.
Speaking with a paralysis disability lawyer is an important first step in reclaiming and rebuilding your life. Since you may need long-term benefits and since your medical bills may be significant, it’s important to apply for all possible disability benefits for paralysis. An attorney can advise you about benefits you may qualify for and can help you build the strongest applications that are supported by strong medical evidence.
As you consider long-term life with your condition, you may wonder about returning to work. In the past, people who suffered a significant injury worried that returning to work would limit or eliminate their benefits – including benefits needed for medical coverage. Today, that’s no longer the case. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act was passed in 1999 and revised in 2007. It allows people who have suffered a serious injury such as paralysis to seek job rehabilitation and other career services without worrying about losing essential benefits.
The PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) can also help people return to work while keeping some of their benefits. If you’re seriously injured but want to return to the workforce after you have undergone treatment, these programs might be something to explore. You can discuss these programs as well as SSD and SSI benefits for your immediate needs with an attorney to ensure you have the support you need to face a bright future with the best medical care possible.
As adaptive technologies improve and accessibility increases, living with paralysis is getting easier every day. While this is good news for most people, it has made it more difficult to qualify for disability benefits. If you’re considering applying, or have already applied and been rejected, contact Ritacco Disability Law first. We can help you gather the evidence necessary to support your claim or appeal a previous decision. Call today at 877-459-4799 to arrange your free initial consultation.