Getting Disability Benefits After a TBI
After suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), one can qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on the listings for TBI or neurocognitive disorders in the Social Security Blue Book or one’s residual functional capacity (RFC).
Disability Listings for TBI
In the TBI disability listing under the neurological disorders section of the Blue Book, the Social Security Administration (SSA) describes TBI as brain damage resulting from an object penetrating into a person’s brain tissue, fracture to the skull or closed head injury caused by an external force.
One way that a person can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) under this listing is if his or her medical records show that he or she is unable to control the movement of at least two arms or two legs or one arm and one leg. The lack of control of the two or more extremities should have lasted three or more consecutive months following the injury.
Another way that a person can qualify for SSDI benefits under this listing is if medical records show that he or she has had marked physical problems and a marked limitation in one of these areas:
- Finishing tasks
- Interacting with other people
- Controlling behavior and regulating emotions
Marked refers to problems that are not extreme but worse than moderate.
A person who has experienced a TBI but lacks lasting physical problems can be evaluated for disability benefits under the listing for neurocognitive disorders under the mental disorders section.
People with mild TBIs may not qualify for disability benefits based on the disability listings. Such people can still be eligible under a medical-vocational allowance. The SSA measures the residual functional capacity of people to determine whether they can do their current jobs despite their mental and physical limitations. If the SSA finds that a person’s RFC cannot allow him or her to maintain gainful employment, the person will qualify for benefits under a medical-vocational allowance.
Useful Medical Evidence
When filing for disability benefits after suffering a TBI, one should present documentation of all his or her functional limitations and medical treatment. That will help the SSA assess a person’s condition more accurately.
Some of the evidence that can support a person’s claim includes results of tests like MRIs, x-rays, neuropsychological tests, and IQ tests, notes from doctors and counselors or caseworkers, emergency room records, and statements from former employers, friends, or family members. Disability lawyers near a person can help him or her gather enough evidence about his or her limitations and provide guidance throughout the disability claims process.