Perhaps you sustained a traumatic brain injury in a vehicle accident and are unable to work. How does the Social Security Administration view TBI, and are you eligible to file for SSDI benefits?
Two forms of traumatic brain injury exist: open and closed. The open form is the least common and occurs when a foreign object penetrates the skull and becomes lodged in the brain. You suffered a closed form of TBI when you were the victim of a car crash and the impact caused you to strike your head against the windshield.
You did the right thing and made a medical appointment directly after the accident. Your doctor ordered a CT scan and performed a neurological exam to determine the extent of damage to your brain. Your head hurt, your vision was blurry, you felt nauseated and you thought you may have a concussion. However, testing showed the damage to your brain was more serious. In the weeks since the accident, your condition has deteriorated to the extent that vision problems have escalated and you have developed memory and concentration issues, making it impossible for you to perform your work.
The Blue Book guidelines
To approve Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for an applicant, a disability examiner will consult the Blue Book, which contains disability listings and the qualifying criteria. Traumatic brain injury has no specific listing in this publication. Therefore, the Social Security Administration must review each claim on a case-by-case basis.
If the disability examiner determines that your traumatic brain injury will keep you out of work for at least 12 months, you may be approved to receive benefits. Keep in mind that it is not unusual for the SSA to deny initial claims, in which case you would need to appeal. The entire process could stretch out for a year and a half or more before you will begin receiving funds. Your best course of action is to form a strategy for pursuing SSDI benefits based on the legal options available to you.