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Stroke and retraining for new work?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I had a stroke six months ago and I do not think I can return to work. The SSA has denied my Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application stating that they believe I can retrain for new work. What are my options?”


Meeting a listing for a Stroke

Although strokes frequently cause permanent limitations for claimants, just because you have a stroke this is no guarantee that you will qualify for SSDI benefits. In fact, to automatically qualify for benefits, assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, you must either have sensory or motor aphasia, which means there has been damage to the region of your brain that allows you to communicate effectively, or you must have “severe and constant disorganization of motor function (paresis or paralysis, involuntary movement or tremor, ataxia, or sensory disorders) in two extremities that causes sustained disorder of an individual’s gait and posture or gross and dexterous movements.” The SSA will expect that you have medical evidence to support your claim and that you have reached your maximum medical improvement. More information about what symptoms the SSA finds automatically disabling can be found under Listing 11.04 in the SSA Listing of Impairments, Central Nervous System Vascular Accident.

Why would the SSA say I can retrain for other work?

If your SSDI claim has been denied for a stroke it means the SSA did not find sufficient evidence to meet or exceed the listing outlined above. If they denied your SSDI claim for stroke, stating that you can retrain for new work, it means they believe you can find another job given your current medical limitations. Does this mean they believe you can return to your past job? No, in fact, they would probably acknowledge that your current limitations will not allow you to return to previous employment. What they do believe, however, is that you have the skills, education, and residual mental and physical capabilities to find some type of work in the national economy. What if I cannot work any job? If your claim for stroke has been denied for other work but you do not believe you can work you can appeal the denial, but you have your work cut out for you. First, you will need to appeal the denial within 60 days from the date of the denial letter by filing a reconsideration appeal (some states eliminate this step and allow you to immediately request a hearing). To win the appeal you will need to provide more medical evidence that your functional ability to work is so compromised following your stroke that it precludes the performance of other work. If you can provide enough medical evidence to support this claim you will be awarded SSDI benefits, even if you did not meet the listing 11.04 for stroke outlined above. Bottom Line: If the SSA claims you can perform other work or retrain for a new job following a stroke you must provide enough new medical evidence that your condition either meets a listing or does not allow you to work. Recent blogs: How does the SSA determine if I need to see a judge?