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Traumatic Brain Injury and Social Security Disability

Traumatic Brain Injury – Condition and Symptoms

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is also called intracranial injury, usually occurs when the brain is traumatically injured by an external force. It can be classified on the basis of its mechanism, severity or location. Often, the general term “head injury,” which refers to a broader class of injury that can involve impairment in structures like the skull and scalp, is used synonymously with traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury symptoms can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the injury and the area of the brain affected. At the initial time of injury, a patient may lose consciousness for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other symptoms of TBI may include vomiting, headache, dizziness, nausea, tired eyes, blurred vision, lightheadedness and lack of motor skill.

Diagnosis is based on clinical evidence and lesion occurrences. Neurological examination is usually conducted to check if the pupils normally contract in response to light. In emergency situations, a radiological test known as computed tomography is widely utilized for fast, accurate diagnosis. Other procedures, including MRIs, CT scans, and X-Rays, can be performed later to verify the extent and location of injuries. In addition, neuropsychological examination can be done to assess the enduring cognitive sequels and to assist in the rehabilitation planning.

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis

Although traumatic brain injury (TBI) doesn’t have an individual listing in the impairment manual, or Blue Book, established by the Social Security Administration, disability claims based on TBI are given consideration and evaluated under the criteria listed for other conditions including cerebral trauma, stroke, and seizure disorder. Fundamentally, traumatic brain injury cases are evaluated according to listed criteria for neurological and organic mental disorders.

To anyone who is not familiar with the way SSDI and SSI disability claims are assessed, it may seem odd that the Disability Determination Services (DDS) deciding Social Security Disability claims can evaluate traumatic brain injury cases based on the criteria meant for other ailments. The Social Security Administration disability determinations, however, are based entirely on residual functional capacity (RFC), or the ability of the claimant to perform basic tasks necessary to perform successfully in an employment situation. The processing of disability claims, therefore, is focused heavily on the measurable and objective limits of the functional ability caused by a claimant’s condition.

When filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on the basis of a traumatic brain injury diagnosis, it is imperative that all appropriate medical evidence is presented, including detailed reports of functional restrictions imposed by symptoms of the condition over time.

Your Traumatic Brain Injury Disability Case

If you can no longer work because of traumatic brain injury, you are likely entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Before filing an initial application, however, it is important to be aware that the extent of your impairment will be determined based on the type, duration, frequency, and debilitating effect of symptoms rather than diagnosis alone. Your doctor should be sure to indicate the degree to which his or her treatment and observations corroborate the negative effects and exertional limitations described in your claim.

If you are not currently represented by a Social Security Disability attorney or disability advocate, finding a qualified legal representative in your area may prove invaluable in preparing for the SSDI application, reconsideration, and hearing level processes.