A speech disorder can prevent someone from being able to communicate effectively. Loss of speech can impact one’s personal life by making daily activities significantly more difficult. It can also be hard to maintain a job without being able to speak and communicate with co-workers and customers.
Speech disorders can affect anyone at any age and can be attributed to a wide range of medical causes. Depending on the type of impairment, loss of speech may be temporary and treatable or irreversible. If you have a speech disorder, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability.
Dayes Law Firm explains the criteria required by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to be considered disabled and approved for benefits. You can learn more about the services we provide and how we may be able to help you during a free initial consultation. There are no upfront fees to hire our firm.
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Different Types of Speech Impairments
There are several types of impairments that can impact one’s ability to speak:
- Aphasia – A language disorder caused by a stroke or brain injury that affects being able to speak, listen, read and/or write. Aphasia can be treated with speech-language therapy.
- Apraxia – A neurological disorder caused by a stroke, brain injury or another brain-related illness. Apraxia affects one’s motor skills and ability to form words and sounds, even when that person knows what they want to say.
- Dysarthria – A paralysis or physical weakness of the speech muscles due to nerve or brain damage. Dysarthria can cause slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand. Having Lyme disease, Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease can lead to this speech impairment.
- Dysprosody – A neurological disorder characterized by changes in rhythm, timing, volume and intonation of words. Dysprosody can be caused by a stroke, brain trauma or a brain tumor.
- Muteness – An inability to speak due to damage to the brain or speech muscles. Muteness can also be due to emotional/psychological trauma.
- Stuttering – A speech disorder involving frequent problems with the normal fluency and flow of speech. Stuttering may be caused by a stroke, mental disability or a brain abnormality.
Other speech impairments include articulation disorders (difficulty making sounds), phonemic disorders (difficulty learning the sounds in language) and voice disorders (problems with the larynx or vocal cords).
Social Security Disability for Speech Disorders
If you have had a speech disorder for at least 12 consecutive months that has prevented you from working, you may qualify for Social Security Disability. The SSA will review your claim and make a disability determination based on:
- Meeting a disability listing in the Blue Book; or
- Proof of your inability to perform any job
Your speech impairment must meet all of the requirements of a disability listing. The impairments in the Blue Book have been predetermined to be disabling. To show that you cannot work safely, you must submit information and documentation that shows how your impairment limits you doing prior work.
Disability Listing for a Speech Disorder
Listing 2.09 addresses loss of speech. It is generally used for speech impairments that cause physical problems with the tongue, larynx or pharynx as the result of a stroke, brain tumor or brain trauma.
In order to qualify, your medical records must indicate the severity of your speech impairment and its impact on your ability to communicate. Examples of supportive evidence to submit include:
- Results of diagnostic tests performed by speech pathologists
- Statements from doctors/specialists confirming loss of speech
- Treatment methods and responses to treatment (i.e. side effects)
- Medical bills associated with diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation
However, it is important to note that if your speech disorder can be understood with the help of an esophageal speech or electronic device, you will likely not be eligible for disability. You must be unable – by any means – to produce speech that can be heard, understood or sustained.
Speech Impairment Impacting Ability to Work
If you do not meet the requirements of a listing, the SSA will determine how your speech impairment affects your work using a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. Your RFC assessment will include your ability to perform a number of work-related tasks based on the severity of your impairment, such as:
- Speaking with co-workers or customers
- Receiving direction from supervisors
- Talking on the phone
- Interacting with others that requires speech
If you cannot do your prior job, the SSA will look at whether you can perform other types of work. If the answer is “No”, you may have a chance at qualifying for Social Security Disability. You could increase your chances even more by working with a lawyer who has experience handling disability claims.
Call to Learn if You Qualify for Disability Benefits
If you have questions or would like to discuss your claim with a Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer, we are available to take your call 24/7. An initial consultation is free of charge so there is no risk to you.
Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing up front for our services. We only get paid if we successfully help you obtain disability benefits.
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