The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the guidelines set forth in the Blue Book to help determine whether a person’s disabilities are severe enough to qualify them for Social Security disability benefits. The Blue Book is divided into sections, each of which deals with conditions affecting a particular body function or system. The eleventh section deals with neurological conditions.
There are sixteen neurological conditions or groups of conditions which are listed in Blue Book Section 11. The neurological disability list that qualifies for benefits includes:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Syndrome)
- Anterior Poliomyelitis
- Brain tumors
- Central nervous system vascular accidents
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cerebral trauma
- Lesions of the spinal cord or nerve roots
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Other degenerative diseases
- Parkinsonian Syndrome
- Peripheral Neuropathies
- Sub-acute combined cord degeneration
CP qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits if your IQ is less than 70, it causes significant behavioral or emotional problems, or it makes it impossible to communicate hear, or see sufficiently to function in an employment situation.
- Grand Mal is generally approved for benefits if you are receiving treatment for three months and are still having more than once seizure per month with daytime episodes or nocturnal episodes which have residual effects which can be shown to be major interferences to your daily activities.
- Petit Mal is approved for benefits if you are receiving treatment for three months and are still experiencing seizures more than once per week. The seizures must cause you to lose consciousness, alter your state of awareness, or cause behavioral issues which interfere with your daily activities.
Myasthenia gravis qualifies you for Social Security benefits if it causes significant problems breathing, swallowing, or speaking while you are undergoing medical treatment. You may also be qualified if it causes severe muscle weakness when you are involved in repetitive activities.
Parkinsonian syndrome qualifies you for disability benefits if it has these signs:
- Sustained disturbance of fine motor skills
- Sustained disturbance of gross motor skills
- Sustained disturbance of gait
- Tremors in two or more extremities
Is Encephalomalacia a Disability?
Yes - it is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration. This is because it is an extremely serious brain disorder that can cause permanent tissue damage including scarring of the brain and loss of tissue.
It is the softening or loss of brain tissue often following an injury after an accident. Frequently, victims never fully recover following a diagnosis of this medical condition.
There are three main forms of encephalomalacia, each of which involves softening of the white or gray matter in the brain. The exact symptoms depend on the tissue that has been damaged and its role in the coordination of body functions, the severity of the damage and the effects on the patient’s ability to work.
Symptoms of encephalomalacia may include a combination of any of the following:
- damage to memory;
- emotional effects;
- loss of speech;
- loss of sensory perception;
- loss of muscle control;
- constant fatigue and desire to sleep;
- blindness or lack of visual acuity;
- mood swings;
The three types of encaphalomalacia are called red, white and yellow softening. The terms reflect the color of the soft brain tissue affected by the condition. For example, red softening is due to the restoration of blood flow to an area of the brain that has previously suffered an embolism.
White softening, on the other hand, refers to tissue that has been badly damaged and consists of dead cells with no blood flow, hence the white color. Yellow softening is due to a build-up of yellow lymph and plaque in the affected area of the brain.
Functional Neurological Disorder
Functional neurological disorder (FND) is a medical condition characterized by an issue with the nervous system's functioning and how the brain and body send and/or receive signals, as opposed to a structural disease process such as multiple sclerosis or stroke. FND can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms, including limb weakness and seizures.
Other Neurological Conditions
Most other neurological conditions are evaluated based whether they meet the criteria for epilepsy or one of the following criteria:
- Loss of ability to speak or communicate based on the neurological impairment.
- Lack of motor function is two extremities (hands or feet) which cause irregular gait or significant difficulty with using your hands or feet for fine and gross motor skills.
Understanding the Disability Application Process
If you have a disabling neurological disorder that has left you unable to work and earn a living, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a stringent process for disabled workers to follow and very specific criteria that must be met to be approved for monthly disability benefits.
When you apply for disability benefits, the processing and approval process can take some time. You should take the time to familiarize yourself with the details surrounding the claims process, so if you familiarize yourself with the process and come to understand how it works can be the best way to relieve some stress.
If you understand the claims process, you will b able to get everything in order and ensure your claim is on the right track for approval. The key to a successful claim is supporting evidence and documentation, so you can back up your claim and the disability examiner can confirm that your condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits and that your condition meets the medical criteria established for the applicable listing.
By understanding the disability claims process, you can avoid some of the more common mistakes that delay the claims process. Some of the requirements of being approved for Social Security Disability include proving that the condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or longer.
The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if a claimant qualifies for disability benefits. There are sections in the Blue Book that cover each body system. Under each section there are listings for different conditions that could be considered disabling and qualify for disability benefits.
You will need to provide hard medical evidence to support your claim and to prove that your condition is as disabling as you are claiming. You must provide evidence that supports your claim and that confirms your disability.
With the right documentation, you can have your claim approved because the disability examiner can confirm your restrictions and limitations caused by Parkinson’s disease.
Completing The Initial Application
When you are applying for disability benefits, you should take your time. You don’t want to rush while completing the paperwork and gathering the supporting documentation and medical records.
The more details and supporting evidence that you can provide, the more likely you are to have success with your disability claim.
Ensure that you have all your medical evidence in order. Prepare a detailed a list of all your medical providers. Be sure to include contact details and the dates that you received treatment or service.
After you have everything together, you should be patient. Make sure you are ready to wait for the claim to be processed. It usually takes several months for disability claims to be reviewed and processed.
Most are denied disability upon the first review. If that is the case, you will receive a notice of denial. That letter will explain why your claim was denied and what evidence was lacking. It will give you a deadline for filing an appeal, which is a request for reconsideration.
You should try to gather the rest of the supporting evidence your claim needs for the disability examiner to determine that you meet the medical criteria.
If your claim is denied on the second review, you will then file a request for an administrative law hearing. At that point, you will go before an administrative law judge who will then review your evidence and determine if you qualify for disability benefits. During the hearing, you will be interviewed by the judge. Medical and vocational experts may also testify regarding your claim.
Specific conditions evaluated under neurological disorders:
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Arnold-Chiari Malformation
- Benign Brain Tumor
- Chronic Migraines
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Motor Neuron Disease
- Parkinson's Disease
- Seizure Disorder
- Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident)
- Transverse Myelitis
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Tourette's Syndrome
- Von Hippel-Lindau