March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, which makes it a perfect time to think about the impact of traumatic brain injuries and what benefits may be available for individuals who suffer from this condition.
If you have been denied disability benefits for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or if you need help with your claim, contact Dayes Law Firm PC to schedule a free consultation with an experienced disability attorney in Phoenix. We can help assess your claim and gather medical evidence to prove the severity of your injury.
Causes of TBI
A TBI is typically caused by a blow to the head that causes damage to the brain, such as bruising, swelling or internal bleeding. The extent of the injury depends on many factors, such as the nature of the injury and the force of the impact.
Common causes of TBIs include:
- Motor vehicle collisions – The force of the impact of a car accident can cause a person's head to collide with a hard surface like the dashboard or for the brain to hit against the skull.
- Falls – Falls from ladders, stairs, beds or the shower can result in a TBI, especially for older adults and young children.
- Sports injuries – TBIs are often caused by injuries in contact sports, such as football, boxing or hockey. Younger individuals are more susceptible to developing a TBI because of this reason.
- Assault – TBIs can also occur from violent acts, such as domestic violence, child abuse and gunshot wounds.
- Explosive blasts – Soldiers and individuals in areas of conflict may sustain significant injuries including TBIs.
Types of TBI
TBIs are classified from mild to severe. A mild TBI is typically considered a concussion or other mild impairment that may be associated with the following symptoms:
- Temporary loss of consciousness, up to 30 minutes
- Loss of balance
- Problems sleeping or sleeping more than usual
Despite being considered mild, these injuries can be accompanied by serious cognitive impairments, including memory loss, problems concentrating or mood swings. Individuals with TBIs may also develop sensory symptoms, such as ringing in the ears, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light or sound.
Moderate to severe brain injuries may result in physical damage to the brain, such as bleeding and torn tissues.
Severe brain injuries are often accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Unconsciousness for more than 30 minutes
- Poor abstract thinking
- Persistent headaches
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Clear fluid drainage
- Shorter attention span
- Loss of motor function
- Loss of coordination
- Prolonged confusion
- Poor memory
- Slurred speech
More severe brain injuries can have serious consequences such as leaving the individual in a coma, vegetative state or brain dead. Seizures are also a common side effect that can last for years after a TBI.
Qualifying for Disability
A person with a TBI may qualify for disability in one of two ways:
Blue Book Listing
The SSA maintains a Blue Book of Listing of Impairments. If a person meets or equals the required medical severity described in one of these listings, the claimant will qualify for benefits.
There are two different ways that a person may meet the listing for TBI: physical or mental.
Under the physical criteria, the claimant must have problems with two arms, legs or a combination of both that are considered an extreme limitation that affects the claimant's ability to stand, walk, stand up, balance, or use his or her arms, which lasts for at least 90 days after the injury.
The mental criteria require the claimant to have a marked limitation in physical functioning accompanied with marked limitation in one of these areas:
- Ability to adapt or manage oneself
- Ability to understand, remember or use information appropriately
- Ability to maintain concentration
- Ability to socialize with others in the work environment
Residual Functional Capacity
If you do not meet the listing for TBI, you may still qualify for benefits. The SSA measures your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to assess whether you can perform work duties associated with your most recent job despite the physical or mental limitations that you have. Your RFC is considered the most you can do, given your TBI and other limitations.
If the SSA determines that your most recent job is too taxing given your injury, it then assesses whether there are other less demanding jobs that you are capable of performing. The SSA considers various factors when making this determination, such as your:
- Work history
- Work skills
Given these factors, if the SSA determines that you cannot work any job available in the national economy, you will be eligible for disability benefits.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer for Help with Your Claim
If you are applying for disability benefits, it is important that you contact an experienced disability lawyer. Our attorneys can assess your claim and guide you through the application and appeals process.
We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation and will not charge for handling your claim unless you receive benefits. Do not wait to contact us today to find out how we can help you.