Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury that happens as a result of a hard hit to the head. A concussion is a common example of TBI, often caused by car accidents or strikes by falling or heavy objects. These injuries can be mild, causing temporary ailments such as dizziness, or can be so severe as to cause death. If a concussion or other brain injury causes long-term disability, or the death of a family member, you may be entitled to disability benefits in Arkansas. Fayetteville brain injury lawyer Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, can help you fight for benefits if you or a loved one was recently injured in an accident.
What is Considered a Disability?
According to the Social Security Administration, to meet the definition of disability “you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically – determinable physical or mental impairment(s): that is expected to result in death, or that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. “
The Social Security Administration establishes a listing of mental and physical illnesses known as the “Blue Book,” which contains the ailments considered to qualify for Social Security benefits. Disabling conditions listed in the Blue Book can affect many different functions and body systems, including:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Neurological Disorders
- Immune System Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
Types of Benefits: SSI & SSDI
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are federal programs that provide qualifying individuals with economic assistance. If you have suffered a severe TBI it may be possible to get benefits from these programs.
To qualify for an SSI, the petitioner must show he or she has very limited income, determined by a means test. Therefore, SSI is meant to assist those in financial need.
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that assists people who have earned a certain amount of work credits. People who have made contributions to Social Security throughout the years could qualify to receive these benefits.
Does a Concussion Qualify for a Disability?
A concussion is an injury that can prevent a person from working, generating income, and having the ability to sustain himself or herself and family members. Some of the most common symptoms associated with a concussion include slurred or slow speech, mood swings, dizziness, and cognitive issues.
Qualifying for disability benefits as a result of a concussion will largely depend on the severity of the injury and the lasting consequences that follow it. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a five-step process to determine if petitioners qualify. These steps are as follows:
- Is the petitioner financially eligible? In this step, field officers will screen petitioners who had a previous job and earned income above the SGA determined by the Social Security Agency. SGA is “Substantial Gainful Activity,” or the tasks and functions a person can perform. If a petitioner has abilities above the established SGA threshold, his or her claim will be denied.
- Does he or she has a severe impairment? For a petitioner to qualify, his or her disability must severe. The SSA establishes that “it must be determined whether the medical evidence establishes a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments of sufficient severity as to be the basis of a finding of inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA).”
- Does he or she meet or equal the medical listings? In this step, the petitioner’s medical evidence is evaluated using the Listing of Impairments (Blue Book) criteria. Those who meet the criteria can advance further without additional evaluation. The petitioner whose condition is not listed, but is equivalent to one of the listed impairments, is said to be equal to medical listing and can also proceed.
- Can he or she work on past work? According to the SSA in this step, “The DDS (Disability Determination Services) considers whether an applicant’s residual functional capacity (RFC) meets the skill and task requirements of his or her past relevant work. The evaluation of RFC determines to what extent the applicant can perform basic work-related activities associated with jobs previously held — usually jobs held in the 15 years before adjudication.”
- Capacity to perform a different job. In this final step, the petitioner’s RFC is considered alongside factors such as age, work experience, and education to determine if the person is able to work on a different job than the one he or she previously worked on.
After a petitioner has gone through this five-step process, the SSA will determine if a petitioner qualifies to receive disability benefits for a brain injury or other type of injury.
Social Security Attorney Serving Fayetteville, Arkansas
If you or a loved one is unable to work due to a severe head injury, it’s possible you may qualify to receive Social Security benefits. However, there are many details to be considered in your disability claim, such as the extent of your injury and all the paperwork needed to sustain it.
You need the help of a knowledgeable and experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer who understands the Arkansas disability claim process and can help you file your application. Call the law offices of Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today at (479) 316-0438 for a free and confidential consultation.