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Receiving Disability Benefits for Stroke
According to the CDC, every year about 795,000 Americans will suffer a stroke—about 600,000 of those will be the first stroke, while the remainder will be a recurrent attack. In 2018, about one in every six deaths from cardiovascular disease was the result of a stroke. During an ischemic stroke, blood flow to the brain is effectively blocked. Strokes are a leading cause of serious long-term disability, significantly reducing mobility in more than half of all stroke survivors over the age of 65.
If your stroke has left you unable to work or manage your day-to-day tasks, you could qualify for SSD benefits. If you are having trouble obtaining disability benefits following your stroke, Carmichael Law Group can help. We have been helping people just like you for many, many years. Our experience is unparalleled. We combine that experience with knowledge, skill, and compassion resulting in a law firm that fights for you and for your future.
While meeting the impairment listing of SSDI is important, equally important is how we tell your story. We will show that your condition has had a serious, adverse impact on your life and your ability to work. This will carry as much or more weight that just the “title” of your impairment. We will also ensure you meet SSDI’s five-step review process. Combining your story and the five-step review process gives you the best chance of receiving your disability benefits.
Social Security does not pay for partial disability or short-term disability—only total disability. SSA determines whether you are disabled by asking the following five questions:
- Are you currently working? If you are working, and you are consistently making more than $1,310 per month, you will probably not be considered disabled.
- Does your disability prevent you from performing basic work-related activities (walking, standing, sitting, remembering)? In short, is your condition considered “severe?”
- Does your disabling medical condition meet or equal the severity of a listing found in the Blue Book list of medical conditions?
- Are you able to do the work you did prior to your disability?
- Can you make an adjustment to do any other type of work?
What Is a Stroke?
Although strokes most commonly affect those over the age of 65, about one-quarter of all stroke victims are under this age. A stroke affects the arteries that lead to and within the brain and is the 5th leading cause of death and disability in the United States. When a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or ruptures, the brain is unable to get the oxygen and blood it needs, resulting in the death of brain cells. An ischemic stroke is caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain. A ruptured blood vessel causes a hemorrhagic stroke, and a mini-stroke or transient ischemic attack is the result of a temporary blood clot.
When a stroke occurs near the back of the brain, a vision disability is likely to result, depending on the obstruction and the extent of affected brain tissue. Since one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, a stroke affecting one side will cause neurological complications on the other side. Therefore, a stroke that occurs on the left side of the brain could result in speech and language difficulties, full or partial paralysis on the right side of the body, loss of memory, and behavior that is slow and cautious, regardless of the victim’s personality prior to the stroke.
If the stroke is on the right side of the brain, the left side of the body will be affected, including some level of paralysis on the left side of the body, a behavioral style that is quick and inquisitive (again, regardless of the victim’s personality prior to the stroke), neurological difficulties including memory loss, and vision issues. A stroke that occurs in the brain stem may affect both sides of the body, leaving the person in what is known as a “locked-in” state. This means the victim of the stroke is unable to speak or achieve any level of movement below the neck.
The beginning of a stroke is often characterized by a sudden numbness on one side. Those who arrive at the ER within 3 hours of their first stroke symptom typically have less disability three months after the stroke than those whose care was delayed. The typical risks for a stroke include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. A stroke victim may have concurrent medical conditions such as a traumatic brain injury, diabetes, or heart disease.
Is a Stroke a Disability Under Social Security Disability Rules?
The SSA does consider strokes to be a disabling condition—but only if the stroke has resulted in a lasting impairment or impairments. This means the limitations related to your stroke must have been present or are expected to be present for at least 12 months.
Under Section 11.04 of the SSA impairment listings, strokes fall under Central Nervous System Vascular Events. Section 11.04 requires that your ability to speak or write has been severely impaired or lost entirely as a result of the stroke or that you have significant issues related to controlling or coordinating movements with two extremities—arms or legs.
If your stroke symptoms do not qualify you under Section 11.04, you may be able to qualify under a vision or hearing loss disability if either of these were the result of your stroke. It is important to note that a severe stroke can lead to changes in personality, dementia, cognitive losses, and intellectual deficits along with physical symptoms.
Providing Proof for a Stroke and Disability Benefits
You will need your doctor to help you gather evidence to support your stroke disability claim. Your Social Security disability attorney can be your best advocate throughout the process. Medical evidence is the cornerstone of any disability claim; you will need records that clearly show the adverse effects from your stroke that are keeping you from working and making a living. The SSA will generally require the following:
- The tests that were initially run at the ER that allowed doctors to diagnose your stroke will be required.
- All records related to your hospital stay and time in the ER must be provided.
- If you have undergone a surgical procedure following your stroke you will need all surgical notes and documentation.
- Your primary care doctor and/or neurologist will need to provide progress notes that include a physical exam, as well as documentation regarding permanent losses associated with speech, coordination, or other areas.
- You will need a long-term prognosis from either your primary care doctor or your neurologist.
- If you have undergone any type of speech, occupational, physical, or other therapy sessions, you will need to provide these records.
- All prescription medications you have been prescribed must be detailed, along with the effect the medication had on you, as well as any side effects.
Unfortunately, applications for disability benefits due to a stroke are often delayed because many stroke patients will see significant improvements within months of the initial stroke.
Getting Help with Your Stroke and Disability Benefits from Carmichael Law Group
If your stroke symptoms have lasted twelve months—or your doctor expects they will last twelve months or longer—you should definitely apply for SS disability benefits. An attorney from Carmichael Law Group can help you prepare and submit your original application or can assist you with any level of appeal. We believe strongly that you should get the benefits you need and deserve as quickly as possible and will fight for that outcome. Contact Carmichael Law Group, LLC today.