Is Traumatic Brain Injury Considered a Disability?
The thought of experiencing a head injury is terrifying. A traumatic brain injury can have catastrophic consequences that could affect a victim’s entire life. Can a traumatic brain injury victim be regarded as having a disability?
This is a complex question. It may seem obvious that a traumatic brain injury would affect someone’s ability to work and qualify that person for disability. However, each case is unique, and the process of applying for disability benefits can be complicated and challenging.
The attorneys at the Phillips Law Group understand this complicated process and want to help victims receive the correct and fair compensation for their traumatic brain injury. Please get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Group. You can call us at (602) 258-8888 or fill out our online form to speak with one of our attorneys.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury results from the damage done to the brain because of some type of violent blow or sudden and intense jolt to the head. It could also be the result of an object penetrating the skull and directly inflicting damage on the brain tissue. A bullet or even shattered pieces of the skull could cause this type of damage.
In the case of a mild traumatic brain injury, a victim’s brain cells might be affected for a short time. Whereas, in a case of serious traumatic brain injury, the consequences can include torn tissues, bleeding of the brain, and bruising to the brain. Such injuries can produce death or lifelong complications.
When TBIs Become Disabilities
A person’s life can be seriously altered by a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The trauma to the skull can impede and significantly disrupt normal brain functions. The resulting symptoms can vary considerably from small impediments in daily life to completely eliminating essential functions of normal living, such as the ability to work.
These are important factors that influence whether a TBI is considered to be a disability or not. In order to determine the degree of your limitations and injury, the Social Security Administration analyzes your application for disability. They do so by means of a comprehensive five-step evaluation process.
This process is also used to determine other disability claims, such as depression disability, back pain disability, and similar medical conditions that prohibit a person from maintaining employment.
After completing this detailed evaluation process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine whether you can or cannot perform work. If, in their analysis, you can perform some types of work, your claim will probably be rejected. However, if the SSA concludes that you cannot perform other work, your application for disability may be granted approval.
What Steps Are Used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to Determine Disability?
The process of qualifying for disability benefits can be complicated and intricate. A personal injury attorney with Phillips Law Group can assist you in analyzing your situation carefully. With correct legal assistance, you can successfully accomplish the following steps to apply for disability.
Step 1: Have a doctor classify your condition
The first step in the process is having your medical disability classified by medical personnel. In the case of brain injuries, they are typically categorized as severe, moderate, or mild.
The causes of traumatic brain injuries vary, but among the most common are:
- Athletic accidents
- Violence or abuse
- Gunshot wounds
- Explosive blasts
- Falling debris
- Defective product injuries
- Car accidents
- Aviation or boating accidents
The above situations and others can result in a TBI, like a concussion, contusion, or skull fracture. A medical doctor can help determine the degree and what caused your injury. Adequate documentation must be provided to substantiate that your TBI prevents you from returning to work or significantly impedes your ability to work.
Step 2: Determine eligibility
Along with officially determining the severity of the TBI, the requirements for income eligibility must be decided. To receive disability benefits, the earnings that you have documentation of receiving cannot go beyond the limits of the disability benefits program.
Step 3: Review your abilities
While your application is processed, there will be a detailed review to determine to what degree, if any, you can still perform the work you performed prior to your TBI.
Step 4: Assess your work history
There also will be an assessment of other work you have performed in the past. The goal is to determine whether you can perform activities accomplished in any of your previous roles.
Step 5: Make the final decision
At the conclusion of the exhaustive review process, if it is determined that adequate evidence shows your traumatic brain injury prevents you from carrying out your previous work and you meet the income requirements, your condition may be declared to be a disability.
Common Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
How can a traumatic brain injury limit your ability to work? As we identify the common symptoms associated with a TBI, it will become clear how these effects can severely impact your work performance.
Among the most common physical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury are the following:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in ears
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of balance and coordination
- Abnormal sleep patterns
In addition to these physical symptoms, there are debilitating thinking and reasoning symptoms that include:
- Personality changes (for example, unpredictable fits of anger and aggression)
- Erratic and uncontrollable mood swings
- Impaired memory, both short and long-term
- Difficulty while paying attention, focusing, or thinking
- Reduced impulse control
- Poor decision-making skills
All of the above symptoms, whether physical or cognitive, can merit a determination as disabling when they occur frequently and with sufficient severity.
Why Medical Evidence is Crucial to Your Application Process
Unfortunately, although you know how badly you feel and how impossible it may seem to work after experiencing a TBI, it is necessary to provide irrefutable medical data to support your claim. This information can include your diagnosis, a description of the disabling symptoms, and a detailed plan of the appropriate treatment you need to receive.
Among some of the detailed information that can help concretely establish your disability claim are:
- Hospital records from the event or accident causing the TBI
- Images from the CT scan or MRI of the brain revealing any abnormal findings
- Notes and evaluations from your doctors
- Documentation of the medications and prescriptions your doctor has administered
- Records showing the physical and cognitive rehabilitative therapy that you receive
Providing well-documented evidence in the review process of your disability application can go a long way in helping to secure approval for your obtaining disability.
Get the Clear Guidance You Need From a Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney
The physical and financial well-being of a person who has been hurt by a traumatic brain injury could be in serious jeopardy. The effects of a TBI can be extensive and last a very long time. However, a victim of a traumatic brain injury accident can get the legal help he or she needs.
A skilled attorney with extensive knowledge in this area of the law can provide you with relief and hope. Let a traumatic brain injury attorney with Phillips Law Group help you navigate the difficult and confusing laws related to the legal definition of disability and how it relates to a TBI.
Please get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Group. You can call us at (602) 258-8888 or fill out our online form to speak with one of our attorneys.
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