Brain injuries can be life changing events. Houston residents who have suffered such injuries are often unable to work even after the injury has healed. A common question from victims of these injuries is whether they are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. As with many serious injuries, the answer to this question depends upon the nature of the injury, its effect on the victim’s ability to work and the prognosis for future recovery.
To obtain SSDI benefits, a person must be totally disabled by virtue of an illness or injury. Total disability means that the victim is unable to perform the duties of employment and is unable to earn more than the maximum prescribed by the Social Security Administration. (The 2019 income limit for non-blind individuals is n $1220 per month.) In addition, the injury must be expected to endure for at least twelve months or to cause the death of the victim. These conditions apply to every application for SSDI benefits, regardless of the type of disabling injury suffered by the victim.
In addition, the victim’s medical condition must fit within two categories of traumatic brain injury as defined by the SSA. In the first category, the victim must suffer from a disorganization of motor function in two limbs resulting in extreme difficulty in standing from a seated position, maintaining balance while standing or walking or using the arms. These symptoms must persist for at least three months following the occurrence of the injury. The second class of traumatic brain injury recognized by the SSI involves marked limitation in physical function and a diagnosis of one of the following:
- Understanding, remembering or using information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating or maintaining a pace of activity; or
- Adapting or managing oneself
People suffering from traumatic brain injuries may have more difficulty understanding and complying with the rules for obtaining SSDI benefits. A knowledgeable attorney can provide substantial assistance in completing and submitting a benefit application and in dealing with an appeal if the first application is denied.