Obtaining Disability Benefits after a Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can happen in many ways, and each victim can experience different effects from this type of injury. People can sustain brain injuries due to head trauma in traffic crashes, assaults, falls, sports accidents, workplace accidents, and more. Brain injuries are also common among veterans who were exposed to bombs called IEDs or other kinds of explosives or gunfire injuries.

No matter how your TBI occurred, however, there is a chance that it can significantly impact your ability to earn a living. Some people are eligible for Social Security disability benefits following a brain injury, though these claims can be complicated. It is always wise to contact an experienced Orange County disability attorney for help with a claim following a TBI.

Brain Injury Diagnosis and Effects

Brain injuries are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild TBIs – commonly called concussions – might not appear on neuroimaging tests, but doctors can often diagnose them with neuropsychological testing. Mild brain injuries might cause cognitive deficiencies for days or weeks, and they generally do not keep you out of work long-term.

On the other hand, severe brain injuries can result in a wide range of effects that can persist for years or might be permanent. Some common effects of severe TBIs include:

  • Language and communication challenges
  • Speech abnormalities
  • Difficulty with abstract thinking
  • Loss of balance, coordination, or other motor function
  • Chronic headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Lack of attention span
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Lack of behavioral control

These are only some of the many possible effects of a brain injury, as they will vary depending on which part of the brain sustained damage. Many of these effects can impact your ability to work, as you might struggle with following directions, written and verbal communication, emotional control, memory lapses, and much more. It is understandable why many people dealing with the impact of a brain injury cannot work and want to apply for disability benefits.

Brain Injury Disability Claims

Before 2016, the Social Security Administration (SSA) would evaluate TBIs under listings for seizure disorders, stroke, or organic mental disorders. However, the SSA now has a separate listing for traumatic brain injuries, which is classified as a closed head injury, skull fracture, or injury from an object penetrating the head. To be eligible for benefits, your medical records must show that you have one of the following:

  • Limitations in two or more extremities
  • Certain cognitive problems
  • Concentration or task-completing problems
  • Behavioral or emotional control problems
  • Difficulty with socially appropriate interactions

You likely will need a significant amount of medical evidence so the SSA can properly assess the state of your condition. This might include emergency room records, imaging test results, caseworker or counselor notes, neuropsychological testing results, IQ test results, notes from former employers, vocational evaluation results, and more.

Because benefits are so important, and because brain injury claims can be complex and challenging, it is in your best interests to seek help from an experienced Social Security disability attorney when it comes time to prepare and file your claim.