Adult Male Ponders Future Looking Out Rain Covered WindowCommon disorders that cause cognitive decline

“Organic mental disorder” is a term used to describe reduced cognitive ability due to a disease that is physical, rather than psychiatric. Often, these debilitating disorders can be treated but not cured. As a result, many people who suffer from these conditions in Illinois may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. As any attorney Social Security can confirm, the Social Security Administration may consider numerous organic mental disorders disabling, including the following three.

Degenerative disorders

Various degenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, represent organic mental disorders. These diseases, which involve the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, can cause various detrimental cognitive changes. Victims may experience memory problems, impulse control issues, loss of concentration and difficulty performing executive functions.

These disorders are evaluated under the SSA’s general criteria for organic mental disorders. An organic mental disorder is considered disabling if victims document two functional limitations and one sign of impaired cognitive function. Potential signs include:

  • Personality changes
  • Reduced intellectual ability
  • Disorientation
  • Memory problems

As an attorney Social Security could explain, functional limitations include difficulty functioning socially, performing daily activities or focusing to finish tasks. Recurrent episodes of decompensation, or episodes when symptoms become more severe, also qualify as a functional limitation.

Brain tumors

Benign or malignant tumors can cause various adverse physical and cognitive symptoms. These symptoms depend largely on the location of the tumor. Victims may suffer from sensory losses, motor control issues, seizures, impaired cognitive function or personality shifts. Additionally, victims of brain cancer may experience adverse effects from radiation therapy.

As any attorney Social Security knows, during SSD claims, benign tumors may be evaluated under the general criteria for organic mental disorders. Brain cancer can also be evaluated under its own distinct set of criteria. The same is true of various potential side effects of brain tumors, including seizure and stroke.

Traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury can affect emotions, sensory perception, rational abilities, motor skills and speech. Like brain tumors, TBIs can directly cause various conditions that the SSA considers disabling, such as seizure disorders. TBI victims may also have a higher risk of developing other disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

The long-term effects of TBIs are often difficult to predict. Some symptoms may improve, while others may not manifest until long after the injury. The SSA takes this variability into account when assessing TBI claims. If a TBI causes significant impairment, the SSA may make a decision within three months of the injury. However, the SSA may also defer a claim decision until six months after the injury, when residual effects become more apparent.