Increased Awareness Could Facilitate Brain Injury Disability Claims, Allsup Reports
Highlights emotional and cognitive impacts during Brain Injury Awareness Month in March
Belleville, Ill.-March 6, 2014-Individuals who sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may not get the disability benefits they deserve if the emotional and cognitive consequences of their injuries are not well understood, according to Allsup, a nationwide veterans disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation company. Brain Injury Awareness Month in March is an opportunity to highlight the challenges individuals with TBI face when seeking SSDI benefits.
Approximately 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reports that 294,172 military service members sustained a TBI from 2000 through 2013.
TBI can cause a wide range of immediate and delayed symptoms. Loss of consciousness, seizures and loss of coordination may happen immediately, while changes affecting thinking, sensation, language or emotions may not appear until weeks or months later. Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty with memory and reasoning
- Difficulty communicating
- Weakness in extremities
- Sleep disturbances
- Anger or violent behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
When severe, these and other TBI symptoms can make full-time employment impossible. Individuals, including veterans and active duty military members, may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
SSDI is a federal insurance program funded by FICA payroll taxes. It provides workers with income if they become unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity for 12 months or more, or their condition is terminal. Eligibility for SSDI is based on insured status (usually, if someone has worked and paid FICA taxes for five out of the last 10 years, they are insured) and an inability to work.
"Social Security relies on medical evidence, diagnoses and the functional limitations imposed by an individual's impairments to determine if someone meets their definition of disabled," said Allsup senior representative Ed Swierczek. "The unique nature of each brain injury and each individual's recovery process means there are few absolute standards when it comes to TBI. It's like trying to appraise a home's value in a neighborhood where all of the houses are vastly different.
"The difficulty is compounded when the cognitive and emotional impacts of the injury are not communicated or appreciated. With TBI, impairments are not always consistent or obvious. In some cases, the patients themselves are not aware of the cognitive changes." Allsup's explanation of how SSA evaluates TBI is available here.
In a system where more than two-thirds of initial applications are denied, expert SSDI representation improves an individual's chances of getting awarded, according to the February 2014 SSA report, Claimant Representatives at the Disability Determination Services Level.
"Getting expert help from the very beginning improves the likelihood of approval at the initial level and avoiding months or years in the SSDI appeals backlog," said Swierczek. The Allsup SSDI backlog ranking by state is available here.
For more information on SSDI eligibility and expert representation, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (888) 841-2126 or visit Expert.Allsup.com.
For more information about Brain Injury Awareness Month visit the Brain Injury Association of America, at www.biausa.org.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Ill.., near St. Louis. For more information, go to http://www.Allsup.com or visit Allsup on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Allsupinc.
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