Can I Continue Working After a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be life-altering. These are caused by accidents, such as workplace accidents, car crashes, or falls. A TBI happens when there is a sudden blow to the head that causes brain damage, usually internal bleeding.

In the U.S., about 1.5 million people annually suffer a TBI, with children, military personnel, and teenagers being more likely to suffer the injury.

How A TBI Affects Your Physical Capacity For Work

A TBI’s severity is diagnosed with scans, such as CAT scans or MRIs, and the severity of the injury will affect the severity of your symptoms. A TBI can affect your physical ability to physically function on a normal level. It could affect mobility, and even lead to paralysis.

It may cause tremors or neurological symptoms. It can make it difficult to control the movement of extremities, such as your arms or legs. That means you may have difficulty balancing while walking or standing, using your arms, or standing from a seated position.

How A TBI Affects Your Mental Capacity For Work

A TBI can have a severe negative mental impact as well. It can make it difficult to finish tasks, control behavior or regulate emotions, adapting to change, and with social interaction. A TBI can affect your persistence, speed, and concentration, so it can keep you from performing a variety of tasks, ranging from assembly to those of a clerical nature.

This kind of injury could affect people in various roles, ranging from educators to factory workers to sales representatives to professional drivers. Even a mild TBI can keep you from performing your basic work duties and lead to disability.

A TBI And Applying For Social Security Disability

According to the SSA guidelines, a TBI is brain damage that is the result of a closed head injury, a skull fracture, or the penetration of an object into the tissue of the brain. The medical guide used by the SSA is the Blue Book, uses Listing 12.02 for neurocognitive disorders to determine if a claimant qualifies for disability with a TBI.

To meet the requirements of the listing, you must be able to provide supporting documentation that shows one of the following:

  • You cannot control the movement of at least two extremities for at least three months after your injury leading to extreme difficulty in balancing while walking or standing, using your arms, or standing from a seated position OR
  • Have “marked” physical problems with a “marked” limitations for at least three months after the injury in the following areas – thinking, finishing tasks, interacting with others, or regulating emotions and controlling behavior

The SSA considers marked to be worse than moderate yet not as severe as extreme. You can start your application online at the SSA's website, or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and speaking with a representative or scheduling an appointment at your local SSA field office.

Your claim’s success hinges on the supporting documentation you provide. To get a free evaluation for your TBI disability claim, complete the form on this site.

Additional Resources

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