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Brain Injury

Does A Brain Injury Qualify Me For Social Security Benefits?

If you are a brain injury survivor and cannot work full-time as a result, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability.

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Although the term “brain injury” often makes folks think only of traumatic brain injury (TBI), in fact, a brain injury may include any of the following:

  • Brain damage: the destruction or degeneration of brain cells.
  • TBI: damage that occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain.
  • Stroke: a vascular event causing damage in the brain.
  • Acquired brain injury: damage to the brain that occurs after birth, regardless of whether it is traumatic or non-traumatic, or whether due to an outside or internal cause.

If you are a brain injury survivor and cannot work at any full-time occupation as a result, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability. When your application is evaluated, the Social Security Administration will look at how your brain injury affects you. Even if your symptoms don’t seem severe, a brain injury can affect your life in many ways–some of which you may not notice but people around you might see. These impacts on your ability to function in a work setting may include:

  • Cognitive problems: trouble paying attention, impaired judgment, short-term and long-term memory loss
  • Communication problems: aphasia/difficulty finding words, dysarthria/difficulty speaking, prosodic dysfunction/difficulty with tone of voice
  • Sensory problems: problems with vision or visual processing, tinnitus or hearing noises, feeling itching, tingling or pain without an obvious source

Depending on the location of your brain injury, you may notice emotional changes too. Friends and family can help you identify these if you’re unsure of whether you’re experiencing them:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • panic attacks
  • insomnia
  • loss of inhibition
  • impulsiveness
  • aggression
  • loss of interest or pleasure in formerly enjoyable activities

Brain injuries can also cause a variety of physical symptoms:

  • blood clots
  • seizures
  • muscle/motor disorders
  • hydrocephalus
  • vasospasm (constriction of blood vessels)
  • aneurysms
  • hormone imbalance, including hypothyroidism

This is not a complete list so if you experience other symptoms or notice changes in your behavior and personality, be sure to talk to your doctor about how they may relate to your brain injury.

All of these symptoms may limit you in your ability to work. Social Security will consider how the limitations you tell them about will affect:

  • How well you can perform physical tasks such as walking, standing, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, reaching, and handling objects; or
  • How well you can perform mental tasks such as understanding, carrying out, and remembering instructions; responding appropriately to supervision and co-workers; and dealing with work pressures.

Improving Your Chances For Obtaining Benefits

  1. See a doctor regularly and take the medication that he/she gives you so that your doctor can support your application for benefits.
  2. Use a calendar to jot down notes about how you feel each day.
  3. Record any of your usual activities you could not do on any given day.
  4. Ask your doctor or other health care professional to track the course of your symptoms and to keep a record of any evidence of fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, dizziness, or other hard-to-document symptoms.
  5. Keep records of how your illness affected you on the job.

You can learn more about Social Security benefits and brain injury at the links below.

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Brain Injury

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  • I had a complicated disability retirement that involved not only Social Security, but the Office of Personal Management.
    My lawyer was excellent. I have a fairly severe learning disability, and organization and paperwork are not my strong suit. She made sure I was organized and prepared, both with the paperwork and for the court appearance. I always felt respected, which is rare for someone with my condition when dealing with others.
    Disability client
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    and appreciation for the meticulous effort and successful case you put together on my behalf.  This has been an extremely difficult time for me.  You have helped by giving me the support and guidance toward a positive result.  Thank you, Melissa!
    Mary, Portland
  • Scott Sell and his team were excellent
    Scott Sell and his team were excellent in helping me win my disability benefits. I couldn't begin to negotiate the maze of paperwork that Social Security requires so that's why I hired Scott and his team to handle it for me. Everyone at the law firm are highly professional, they have a vast wealth of knowledge and resources, and what really matters to me is what kind and caring people they are. I was really impressed with how quickly I was awarded my benefits, it took far less time than I imagined and that was because I hired the right people to handle my case. Thanks to everyone at TCN & F and especially to Scott, Erin and Susan
    Debra, Portland
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    as they did because of you being my lawyer. The man at the local SS office said that people have a lot of respect for you in the SS world. Thank you again so much.
    Pam, Salem, OR
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    is an extremely difficult position to be in. I found myself at times very confused and overcome with emotion. However, from the first time I met her, Melissa treated me kindly, respectfully and all the while maintaining a very professional demeanor. I was never anything but 100 percent confident in her abilities to guide me through this difficult time. Now that this difficult endeavor has wound down, I am filled with a sense of renewed hope. Thanks to your wonderful team, I now feel that I have been given a ‘fresh start’ in life. Not a lot of folks are given that opportunity.
    Speaking of teamwork, my thank you would not be complete without mentioning your assistant, Erin Daniels. Erin was also very professional, very helpful and I never felt as if I was being talked down to. She deserves a great big thank you for her efforts also.
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    Suzanne, NE Portland
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    thank you so much for all of your hard work! I will forever be grateful for all that you did to help me prepare for the hearing, for being so kind, for always answering my calls and emails so quickly, and for always being so helpful! You really have no idea how much my husband and I appreciate you. Thanks again for everything,
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    We had a very hard case which had a low chance of winning, but we did win. Melissa is patient and honest. She takes the time to explain any information even it takes a couple of times to explain the same thing. I found Melissa to be very professional. This was the first time I have ever had to go before a judge and it was a little scary but Melissa helped us be calm. I believe Melissa knows what she is doing.
    Becky, Hillsboro
  • Dear Melissa,
    thanks very much for helping with my SSDI hearing. You were so kind and gracious as well as helpful to me. You restored my faith in lawyers. My lawyer for my car accident claim was rude and didn’t follow through as promised. You were exactly the opposite and made me feel respected and comfortable/relaxed. Thanks VERY much.
    Sue, Portland
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