Traumatic Brain Injury and Social Security Disability
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. As a result of a TBI, an individual may have physical, cognitive or mental deficits that seriously impact an individual’s functioning ability both at work and outside of work. A person that has suffered a blow or jolt to the head should immediately seek out medical care.
SSA recognizes that an individual may be unable to work and entitled to social security disability benefits because of symptoms related to a TBI. Depending on an individual’s symptoms, SSA has special rules that SSA uses to evaluate the severity of TBI symptoms. For example, if SSA determines that an individual’s cognitive ability is severely impaired from a TBI, SSA will evaluate whether the severity of the symptoms equals or meets Listing 12.02. Other Listing criteria that SSA may consider is Listing 1.00, and 11.00. Under some circumstances, an individual’s TBI symptoms may satisfy SSA’s special Medical-Vocational Guideline Rules under Step 4 and Step 5 of SSA’s 5-Step Sequential Evaluation process warranting an award of benefits.
To improve an individual’s chances of winning disability benefits because of a TBI injury, TBI symptoms should be well documented with objective medical findings and treatment records should show that there has been no improvement despite appropriate treatment with specialist(s). Given the complexity of a TBI as it relates to disability benefits, an individual seeking disability benefits because of symptoms related to a TB should speak with a representative or attorney who has represented individuals before SSA who cannot work because of a TBI.