Disability Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and related conditions are some of the most common causes of long-term disability. If a brain injury is preventing you from working, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Whether you have previously been denied coverage or are preparing your claim for the first time, contact Ritacco Disability Law today for immediate assistance.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Disability
Frequently caused by falls, automobile accidents and other impacts, traumatic brain injury can lead to symptoms ranging from mild headaches to long-term cognitive deficiencies. According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, at least 5.3 million Americans, or 2% of the U.S. population, live with ongoing disabilities as a result of TBI. Sports-related injuries are the second leading cause of TBI. Athletes (football players and boxers in particular) may suffer TBI from repeated concussions sustained during play. With this in mind, the NFL instituted a new rule forbidding players from hitting with the top of the helmet in 2013. However, can affect both men and women of any age. Athletes in high school and even younger, including gymnastics, soccer, and baseball players, may experience TBI.
The symptoms resulting from TBI can result in inability to maintain full-time employment. Disabilities resulting from TBI include problems with cognition (difficulty with focus and memory loss), sensory processing deficits (loss or change in sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), hormonal imbalance, communication difficulties, and behavior and mental health disorders (including depression, anxiety, personality changes, irritability, mood changes, and aggression). If severe enough, any of these problems might prevent a person from performing full-time work activity. Many sufferers experience several symptoms as a result of TBI, the combination of which leaves them disabled.
Who Qualifies for SSI/SSD?
Provided certain conditions are met, individuals with a traumatic brain injury can qualify for benefits under either the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSD) programs. To qualify for either, your brain injury has to be expected to last a year or more and must prevent you from either working at your previous job or working in any other position. A comprehensive neuropsychiatric evaluation is usually helpful to assess what functional limitations a person may have after experiencing a TBI, and how those limitations could impact one’s ability to maintain employment.
If you are unable to work as a result of TBI you can apply to collect benefits under one of the two Social Security disability programs, depending on your work history. To find out more about SSD and SSI eligibility requirements, contact Philadelphia brain injury lawyer Lisa M. Ritacco. Ritacco and her team may be able to help secure your benefits, even if you have been denied coverage previously. Your initial consultation is always free.
What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
Over 65% of first time claimants are denied coverage for SSD or SSI benefits, often based on a technicality. If you’ve had your claim rejected, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco today. Under Social Security guidelines, an appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving notification — the sooner our team of traumatic brain injury attorneys begins working on your case, the better your chances of having your initial decision reversed. A brain injury lawyer can help you secure the proper paperwork and, if necessary, represent your interests at an appeal hearing.
Denied Disability for a Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are many reasons why you may be denied disability if you have a traumatic brain injury. One of the most common is that you may not qualify for disability under the blue book listing for cerebral trauma. To qualify for disability with a TBI, you must be able to demonstrate significant impairment, as defined by the Social Security listing of impairments. Depending on the symptoms your TBI causes, you may be eligible for benefits under the listing for:
- Epilepsy. If your TBI has caused any seizure disorder, you may qualify for benefits if documentation shows that your seizures are frequent and meet a certain definition.
- Central Nervous System Vascular Accident. If you have had at least one stroke due to your brain injury, you may qualify for benefits if your mobility in your arms and legs is affected significantly three months or more after your injury, leaving you unable to use your fingers, hands, arms or legs. You can also meet eligibility requirements if you can show your seizure disorder has resulted in communication or speech issues.
- Organic Mental Disorder. If you can prove you have suffered cognitive changes, personality changes, disorientation or mood disorders that prevent you from regular daily functioning or prevent you from doing your job, you may be able to prove your disability. If neuropsychological testing shows severe impairment or if your IQ drops by at least 15 points after your injury, you may also be eligible for benefits.
Proving Traumatic Brain Injury Disability Eligibility
In many cases, patients are denied benefits because their application for benefits does not clearly establish the extent to which their TBI has affected their lives. To qualify for disability with a traumatic brain injury, you must demonstrate your injury is severe and meets the requirements and definitions of disability, as established by Social Security. If your injury does not meet blue book definitions, you must show that it is severe enough to prevent you from maintaining employment. Medical evaluations and documentation from neuropsychologists, eye doctors, vestibular specialists, rehabilitation professionals, doctors, neurologists, psychologists, neuropsychologists and other professionals in the field can help establish the severity of your injury.
Another challenge with traumatic brain injury is that every patient has a different experience with traumatic brain injury. There is a different healing process with each individual, so it can be difficult to establish how much a patient is expected to recover from an injury. If you cannot prove your injury is serious and expected to be long term, you may have a harder time establishing eligibility for benefits.
If you have been denied benefits, always gather as much documentation as you can. It can also be helpful to contact a traumatic brain injury lawyer for an evaluation. An attorney can review your situation, subpoena medical records, recommend specialists to establish the extent of your injuries and more. If you’d like to speak with someone at a traumatic brain injury law firm, contact the office of Lisa M. Ritacco for a consultation.
A Brain Injury Lawyer Committed to Resolving SSD and SSI Claims
Lisa M. Ritacco is a traumatic brain injury lawyer with over nine years of experience navigating the complexities of the SSD and SSI systems. Based in Media, PA, Ritacco Disability Law can provide representation and counsel for clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and surrounding areas. As her exclusive area of practice, Ritacco knows SSD and SSI legislation inside and out, and can help you avoid the mistakes that commonly cause a rejected claim.
Call Ritacco Disability Law today at 1-877-459-4799 or contact her online, and let Lisa M. Ritacco and her team help you get the benefits you deserve.