Complex, debilitating injuries

As many as 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries occur yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. TBI victims in Illinois may experience life-changing physical and cognitive effects, which can make living with the injury incredibly challenging. Fortunately, with the help of Social Security lawyers in Chicago, people with severe TBIs may find aid through Social Security Disability benefits.

Permanent losses

Some traumatic brain injury symptoms subside shortly after the injury occurs. These include memory problems, disturbed sleep patterns and mood swings. Unfortunately, other effects are permanent, and these lingering changes can be highly debilitating.

TBIs can have significant cognitive impacts. Victims may have trouble remembering, learning and processing information. Concentrating, planning and making decisions may become difficult. Communication can also present a challenge. A TBI victim may struggle to speak or write and understand or remember words. Some TBI survivors also have trouble interpreting tone or body language, following conversations and interacting appropriately.

A traumatic brain injury can also result in debilitating physical symptoms. These include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of strength or coordination in the limbs and body
  • Sensory loss, including tinnitus, hearing loss, blurred vision, reduced smell and reduced taste

Some of these symptoms may not surface for months. Additionally, long-term complications, including potentially heightened stroke risk, may not become evident for years.

TBI has no known cure, and determining the prognosis of a specific injury can be challenging. This makes it crucial yet difficult for individuals who cannot work to receive SSD benefits.

Seeking benefits

The Social Security Administration recognizes several conditions that can result from TBI as disabling. These include epilepsy, stroke and organic mental disorders. If an individual proves he or she suffers from one of these conditions, and the condition meets SSA severity criteria, the individual qualifies for benefits without further scrutiny.

Alternately, an individual may seek a medical vocational allowance. This allowance is granted based on the SSA’s appraisal of the individual’s ability to work despite the TBI. The SSA will grant an allowance if the individual is not fit to perform current jobs, past jobs or new types of work.

Several forms of evidence can support a claim of disability due to TBI. Physical examinations and lab tests can establish the injury and its extent. Other assessments, such as hearing and vision tests, can document physical functional limitations. Cognitive tests and observations from professionals such as neurologists and psychologists can attest to cognitive effects of the injury.

It’s crucial for victims to collect and provide extensive documentation. Many TBI effects can be difficult to detect, and the SSA maintains strict standards of proof, so poorly documented claims are more likely to be denied.