A man on a wheelchair moving towards a guy.

Claiming SSD benefits for debilitating strokes

Stroke affects almost 800,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke is also a common cause of disability, as most Supplemental Security Income lawyers Waukegan know. Stroke can cause physical disablement, cognitive changes and shifts in mood or personality. While some strokes result in minor or temporary losses, other strokes may lead to debilitating changes that victims never fully recover from.

Complex long-term impacts

Strokes can cause various physical impairments. Some victims suffer from muscle weakness or paralysis, which may affect one side of the body or the entire body. Incontinence, pain, numbness and loss of vision are other potential outcomes of stroke. Some victims also experience difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking.

Strokes can also cause cognitive and psychological challenges. Victims may struggle to communicate, read or comprehend others. Stroke can also impact memory, concentration, judgment and reasoning. Some victims experience mood swings or depression, along with adverse associated symptoms. Behavioral changes, especially in social settings, may also be evident.

Claiming disability benefits

Many of these lingering effects may prevent victims from working gainfully or caring for themselves. These victims may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits on various grounds. As Supplemental Security Income lawyers in Waukegan can explain, victims might qualify in the following ways:

  • Proving the stroke meets the “Blue Book” listing criteria. Under the listing, stroke is disabling if it prevents a victim from speaking or writing or from controlling the movement of two extremities. These symptoms must be evident at least three months after the stroke occurs.
  • Meeting the terms of a different listing based on complications associated with the stroke. For example, if a stroke causes visual field contraction or loss of visual acuity, the victim may qualify under the listing for one of these impairments.
  • Qualifying for a medical-vocational allowance. If a stroke and its effects do not meet the requirements of any Blue Book listings, a claims examiner considers whether the applicant is capable of working. An allowance is awarded if the functional limitations associated with the stroke do not permit the victim to resume any previous jobs or pursue new work.

Stroke victims may apply for SSD benefits shortly after the stroke. However, the SSA will not evaluate these claims until three months after the stroke has occurred, since its long-term effects may not be clear before that point.

If new effects manifest during this waiting period, victims should make sure to provide the SSA with updated medical documentation. If the claim is denied and the disabling effects of the stroke later worsen, victims should discuss appealing the decision with SSD or Supplemental Security Income lawyers in Waukegan.