SSDI & TBI: Gaining Disability Benefits After a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain x-ray

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) could be caused by a violent blow to the head, a fall, or a car accident. Whatever the initial cause of your TBI, it was an unexpected accident, and your life has now changed in significant and dramatic ways. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may be a way to help offset the financial strain that comes with an unexpected disability like a TBI.

The diagnosis of a TBI from a doctor will mean many things for your life. Treatments may include rest, which may mean you are unable to work for a period of time, or indefinitely. Treatments may also include surgery, medication, cognitive therapy, and rehabilitation. You may also require treatment for unexpected symptoms, including anger management and psychological counseling. Whatever treatments and therapies that you may incur, SSDI may be a lifeline to help you and your family cope with the new changes in your health.

Your life may have been upended in other unexpected ways because of your injury. If you are no longer able to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance. SSDI, once approved, is a monthly benefit paid by the federal government to you to help support you and your family if you're unable to work due to an injury like a TBI. SSDI also supports other Americans who are disabled due to chronic illness or injury.

This program is managed by the Social Security Administration, and the benefits you can receive are based on how long you worked and paid into social security. Your lifetime earnings to this point will be a determining factor in the disability amount you may receive. There are several steps to take in order to receive these benefits, and having a disability attorney assist with your case greatly improves your chances of winning benefits.

Does My Medical Condition Satisfy the Requirements for Disability?

The SSA has created a list of qualifying disabilities, both mental and physical, that qualify for full monthly benefits. You may still receive benefits if your condition is not on this list, but only if you can prove that your condition is severe enough that you are unable to work in the national economy.

A TBI is classified under listing 11.18 (Neurological), but your medical records must show extreme limitations. Extreme limitation means the inability to stand up from a seated position, maintain balance in a standing position and while walking, or use your upper extremities to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities. The assessment of motor function depends on the degree of interference with standing up; balancing while standing or walking; or using the upper extremities (including fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders).

It’s common for the Social Security Administration to deny claims for disability. In fact, social security disability claims are denied up to 64% of the time on their first try. A disability lawyer can help you know your rights, prepare evidence from doctors regarding your TBI, and prepare your claim for a hearing. Once you’ve been denied benefits, it’s imperative that you work with a disability attorney for your appeal.

What Happens During an Appeal?

Because of the specific nature of your injury, and that it affects you both mentally and physically, it may feel like an uphill battle to receive benefits, especially if you’ve been denied the first time. But this is no time to give up. Partnering with the right disability law firm is an important step. Having a friend or family member that you can trust by your side makes a difference in your overall health or well-being, but having a legal advocate presenting your case can be the most important decision you can make during an appeal.

Your lawyer will inform you of important deadlines and paperwork requirements. In addition, they can make sure that you have complete medical records–in fact, most denials for benefits are because of incomplete records, not because you don’t qualify for benefits at all.

Following your denial, you will have 60 days to file for an appeal. File your appeal as soon as possible and partner with your legal counsel on next steps. All cases are different, complicated, and unique. Your lawyer specializes in disability benefits and will be able to make sure that you meet deadlines and have complete records and documents. They will do everything possible to make sure that you win your appeal. Keep in mind that your disability lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you win your case, and even then, they are only paid from your back pay, not to exceed $6000.

Why Choose a Disability Lawyer?

Most lawyers in America focus on specific areas of practice to specialize in. A disability law firm like Affleck & Gordon in Georgia only handles disability cases for Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and Veterans Disability. This means that even though your case is specific to you, chances are, the lawyers at Affleck & Gordon have seen similar cases in their experience, and can use that experience to help you win your case.

When it comes to living with a traumatic brain injury, disability lawyers understand your limitations. If you’re unable to return to work because of this disability, your law team will fight hard on your behalf for you to gain the monthly benefits that you deserve. In 2020, these benefits ranged from $800 to $2000 per month, with the maximum benefit being $3011. It’s worth it to pay your attorney from your back pay (up to $6000 maximum) for you to be able to live your life receiving these benefits as compensation for your TBI.

Affleck & Gordon offers free consultations, and would be interested in learning more about your case to see if they can assist with your claim.

If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.

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