Do You Qualify for SSDI?

Applying for Disability Benefits after a Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain suffers any type of acute injury. Traumatic brain injuries are unique medical conditions because they can be caused a wide range of events and can affect people in a variety of ways. These injuries can cause mild, temporary symptoms or they can cause serious symptoms that worsen over time.

If you have suffered a TBI you may find it difficult or even impossible to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that certain illnesses and injuries can make it impossible for an individual to work. To help offset the expenses of being disabled and unable to work, the SSA offers disability benefits to eligible individuals.

The following article will give you a brief overview of the Social Security Disability benefit system and will provide you with general understanding of what you need to know in order to apply.

Social Security Disability Benefit Programs
The SSA administers two separate benefit programs that have their own set of technical requirements. The first disability program—Social Security Disability Insurance—is available only to individuals who have paid Social Security income taxes for a required amount of time. Learn more about qualifying for SSDI here:

The second disability program is called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. SSI is offered to disabled or elderly individuals who have very little income and financial resources. SSI payments are determined based on an applicant’s financial need and by the limits within the state where the applicant resides. This program is often a good option for individuals with limited income who may not have adequate work history to qualify for SSDI. Learn more about applying for SSI here:

It is important to note that there are health insurance options that accompany these programs in certain circumstances. To learn more about Medicaid and Medicare visit this page:

Who Qualifies For Social Security Disability Insurance?
In addition to the previously mentioned technical requirements, applicants must qualify medically as well. To determine an applicant’s medical eligibility, the SSA consults a guidebook of disabling conditions known as the SSA’s blue book. TBIs are listed in section 11.18 of the blue book. This section of the blue book states that to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with TBI, applicants meet one of the following listings:

• 11.02- Convulsive Epilepsy
• 11.03- Non-Convulsive Epilepsy
• 11.04- Central Nervous System Vascular Accident (Stroke)
• 12.02- Organic Mental Disorders

Although it is understood that you may not have these specific conditions, the SSA will look for evidence that you or the applicant meet the symptoms of one of the previously mentioned listings. To access all blue book listings, visit the following page:

Essentially, to qualify for benefits you must provide the SSA with medical records and documentation that prove you suffer from the following symptoms:

• Frequent seizures
• Trouble communicating and/or comprehending directions
• Difficulty walking, lifting, pulling, grabbing, or sitting for extended periods of time
• Struggling to interact socially or deal with common workplace changes

Medical documentation may include records of your diagnosis, treatments, history of your hospitalizations, any lab results, and personal notes from your doctor. It is important to provide as much documentation as possible so that the SSA can see how your TBI truly affects your ability to work.

Getting Ready to Apply for Disability Benefits Due to a TBI
Once you are ready to begin the Social Security Disability application process, you can do so at the SSA’s website or in person at your local Social Security office. Please note that a family member or guardian is allowed to apply for disability benefits on behalf of a loved one who is suffering from a TBI.

If your initial application is denied, do not panic. You have the option of appealing this decision within 60 days. While the appeals procedures can take months or even years to complete, it is important that you remember that Social Security Disability benefits exist to help you. No matter how difficult the application process gets, it is important that you don’t give up. Once you are awarded benefits, your financial burden will be lessened and you’ll be able to focus on recovery.

For more information about TBI and Social Security Disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help ( or contact Molly Clarke at

Molly Clarke is the Social Media Coordinator for Social Security Disability Help where she works to promote disability awareness and assist people throughout the disability application process. Email Molly

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