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Can You Get Social Security for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Medical professional analyzing a series of MRI brain scans displayed on a high-tech digital monitor.

What are SSDI eligibility requirements for TBI benefits?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Whether it's due to a negligent driver running a red light in Allentown, a slip and fall on a wet grocery store floor in Bethlehem, a construction site accident in Fullerton, or another situation, TBIs often have severe, long-term physical and psychological consequences.

Every year, millions of Americans endure the repercussions of TBIs, facing significant obstacles in their daily lives. The journey to recovery not only demands medical intervention but also substantial financial resources, making access to support systems like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) crucial for many survivors.

SSDI eligibility for TBI victims hinges on the injury's severity and the extent to which it impairs one’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires detailed medical documentation of the brain injury and its functional impacts, assessing each case against their criteria for disability.

Seeking help from a Pennsylvania SSDI attorney can be pivotal for TBI victims navigating the SSDI application process. An attorney can provide invaluable assistance in compiling the necessary medical evidence, completing the application accurately, and advocating for the victim’s rights through the appeals process, if needed.

How do TBIs happen?

Traumatic brain injuries are relatively common and can occur across all age groups and demographics. The term TBI describes various types of disruption in normal brain function caused by a sudden external force to the head that results in cognitive, physical, or emotional impairment. Examples of TBIs include concussions, contusions, diffuse axonal injuries, penetrating injuries, skull fractures, and coup-contrecoup injuries. Knowing the risks can help you prevent or avoid TBI hazards. Here are some of the most common TBI causes and factors:

  • Work accidents.
  • Falls.
  • Sports injuries.
  • Falling objects.
  • Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents.
  • Explosive or blasting accidents.
  • Physical violence.
  • Pedestrian and cyclist accidents.
  • Defective or malfunctioning equipment.

TBIs can have long-term devastating effects such as chronic headaches, memory impairment, depression, anxiety, difficulties with speech or language, decreased motor coordination, paralysis, and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. When a TBI is so severe it prevents a person from living independently or working a job, they may be eligible for SSDI benefits.

SSDI for brain injuries

Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program designed to provide financial support to individuals who are unable to work due to significant disabilities, including those resulting from traumatic brain injuries. The application process for SSDI benefits demands thorough documentation to establish eligibility, emphasizing the disabling nature of the condition.

To qualify for SSDI on the basis of a TBI, applicants must demonstrate:

  • Impaired Motor Function: This includes significant difficulty controlling movement in two or more extremities, which may manifest as trouble standing from a seated position or challenges with walking


  • Cognitive and Motor Function Limitations: Applicants may also qualify if they have limited motor function and significantly reduced mental capabilities that impact their ability to:
    • Follow directions,
    • Remember information,
    • Focus on tasks,
    • Adapt to changes, and
    • Socially connect with others.

Individuals whose TBIs do not meet these criteria may still be eligible for other forms of Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) assesses an individual’s "residual functional capacity" (RFC) to determine their capability to perform work-related activities. Based on this assessment, they might receive vocational rehabilitation benefits, partial disability benefits, or other support.

We help TBI victims obtain the SSDI benefits they deserve

Successfully applying for SSDI benefits is challenging, with any mistakes potentially jeopardizing your claim. Even with correctly completed forms, the Social Security Administration denies millions of applications annually for various reasons.

At Vellner Law, PC, we assist from the initial application to appealing denied claims, leveraging our knowledge of necessary evidence and effective strategies. Contact us in Allentown or Bethlehem to schedule an appointment.

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