Brain injury after car accident can I get SSDI benefits?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered to claimants with a severe debilitating health condition which is expected to last 12 continuous months and does not allow them to perform work. If you have had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) this could result in permanent neurobiological damage that not only can produce lifelong deficits in your ability to function, but also the inability to continue to work.
Recently on our disability forum a user asked, If I have been involved in a car accident and I have a traumatic brain injury will I be able to receive SSDI benefits? How does the SSA determine if I am disabled? What if I can go back to work part-time or retrain for some type of less strenuous work?
Impact of brain injury on workers
Severe brain injuries can affect a workers attention, concentration, memory, speed of processing, focus, and language processing. There can also be other issues such as confusion, difficulties reading and writing, slurred speech, receptive aphasia (difficulty understanding the spoken word), expressive aphasia (difficulty speaking), and impulsivity, not to mention physical limitations such as vision loss, blurred vision, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, loss of stamina, chronic pain, and physical paralysis.
Can I work with my brain injury?
Regardless of what type of brain injury you suffer and your physical and mental limitations, however, the Social Security Administration will be most concerned with whether you have retained your ability to work your current job or whether you have the physical and mental capacity to retrain for new work.
So lets answer the first question. How does the SSA determine whether I am disabled? If you have been in a car accident the SSA will determine whether you are disabled and qualify for SSDI benefits by evaluating whether your condition meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA listing of Impairments.
This listing of impairments is a fairly comprehensive list of conditions and their corresponding conditions the SSA considers automatically disabling. Brain injury is evaluated under Listing 11.00 Neurological, Section 11.18 Cerebral Trauma. If you have a condition and symptoms as severe as this listing you will be determined disabled (assuming you meet the other nonmedical requirements for SSDI).
Retraining for New work
Its not unusual, however, for some workers with severe brain injury to recover to such a degree that they can do some type of work. Even if you have minimal paralysis or your ability to focus deteriorates and you are no longer able to perform your current job, if your condition does not meet a listing, the SSA will determine if you could retrain for new work.
For example, if you were a C.P.A but following your brain injury you were no longer able to concentrate and make the necessary calculations for your current job but you were able to retrain to be a security officer, the SSA would determine you were not disabled.
The SSA is less concerned with the type of job you can perform and more concerned with whether you have the functional mental and physical capacity to work.
Suffering a severe head injury will not guarantee you will be awarded benefits. The SSA will evaluate your condition and determine whether you have retained the capacity to work. If you can work and make enough money, the SSA will find you not disabled.
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