Disability benefits may be available for brain injury

Concussions and other brain injuries are often complex and unpredictable. As any Naperville Social Security lawyer knows, these injuries can cause numerous debilitating physical, cognitive and psychological effects. Unfortunately, new research shows college football players may face a heightened risk of these complications, even when they suffer sub-concussive injuries.

Significant, lasting damage

The study, which was published online in PLOS One in 2013, followed 67 college football players during one football season. Researchers took brain scans, drew blood samples and administered cognitive tests before and after every game.

Although none of the players monitored suffered concussions, 40 suffered blows to the head and showed potential signs of brain injury or damage. These players exhibited brain scan abnormalities and high levels of a serum that promotes autoantibodies. These antibodies may be a risk factor for early degenerative changes in the brain.

Previous research has linked concussions and serious brain injuries, such as chronic encephalitis. This new finding indicates even football players who suffer sub-concussive injuries may face brain damage. This may cause irreversible changes to personality, memory, physical abilities and more. Sadly, some victims may lose the ability to work and perform other necessary activities of daily living.

Seeking disability benefits

Severe brain injuries or damage may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. As a Naperville Social Security lawyer can explain, victims may qualify in a few ways. The Social Security Administration includes cerebral trauma in its “Blue Book” of conditions that are considered disabling if they meet prescribed criteria. Cerebral trauma can be evaluated under various listings, depending on the effects it causes. These include:

  • Central nervous system vascular accident — a stroke with specific symptoms that persist after three months may meet this listing.
  • Epilepsy — the Blue Book includes listings for petit mal and grand mal epilepsy, which must occur at a certain frequency after three months of medication.
  • Organic mental disorder — cognitive, mood or personality changes affecting thinking, social functioning or other daily activities may qualify as disabling.

Other neurological disorders that arise in relation to brain damage, such as Parkinson’s disease, can be evaluated under their own listings.

If a brain injury or brain damage does not cause these effects, it may merit a medical-vocational allowance. If a person cannot reasonably work based on his or her functional limitations, age, relevant education and job skills, the SSA may grant a medical-vocational allowance.

Claim documentation

Understanding how a brain injury will most likely be evaluated can help an SSD applicant determine what evidence to provide. Before filing a claim, applicants may want to consult with a Naperville Social Security lawyer for advice on documenting the condition and meeting relevant SSA criteria.