Did you know that there are about 600 known neurological disorders and conditions? Some examples include Parkinson’s, epilepsy, migraines, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and stroke. Neurological conditions can develop as a result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well. The number of people affected by these conditions are increasing worldwide including the United States.
Neurological conditions affect patients as well as family members and take a toll on their economic resources. Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI), a financial assistance program under the Social Security Administration (SSA), provides much-needed financial support to affected individuals. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can benefit from SSDI.
What Criteria Does the SSA Use to Evaluate Neurological Problems?
Section 11.00 of the Blue Book has the listings and criteria for eligibility. For many disorders, diagnosis alone is not enough to get approval for benefits. Each disorder has its own specific criteria; however, most conditions need to fulfill the following general criteria to get approval:
- Inability to work for a minimum of 12 months.
- Persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities which results in continued disturbance in standing and walking, or moving arms, legs, arms, wrists, and other body parts.
- Difficulty in speech and communication due to sensory or motor aphasia.
What Documents Do I Need if I have Neurological Problems?
Documentation of neurological disorders is extensive. Documentation includes, but is not limited to:
- Reports from a physician describing the impairment in detail (in case of seizures, testimonies are also accepted)
- Medical history and physical examination reports
- Electrophysiological tests
- Neuroimaging like MRI
- CAT scan
What Neurological Disorders Appear in the Blue Book?
The neurological conditions in sections 11.02 to 11.19 include both central nervous system and peripheral nervous system disorders.
Epilepsy: is a brain disorder that causes seizures. In this section, both convulsive and non-convulsive epilepsy are listed.
Convulsive epilepsy: A detailed description of seizures and associated phenomena is needed. Occurrence should be more than once a month in spite of being under a minimum of three months of treatment.
Non-convulsive epilepsy: Detailed descriptions are needed here too, but the occurrence needs to be more than once a week in spite of three months of treatment.
Parkinsonian syndrome: Parkinsonism is a collective term that describes a group of diseases that are marked by tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement. Claimants are eligible if they have a diagnosis along with signs of significant rigidity, bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities which results in difficulty in making body movements, walking and standing.
Cerebral palsy: This neurological disorder affects body movement and muscle co-ordination. A diagnosis along with one of the following can qualify you for disability benefits:
- An IQ of 70 or less
- Abnormal behavior
- Defects in speech, hearing or vision
- Disorganization of motor function
Multiple sclerosis: MS is caused when the body’s immune system attacks myelin, a fatty substance that surrounds the nerve cells, resulting in visual disturbances, and difficulty in moving among other things. To qualify for benefits, you need to have a diagnosis with one of the following:
- Disorganization of motor function
- Visual or mental impairment
- Fatigue of motor function and muscle weakness
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease: ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. While diagnosis alone is sufficient for eligibility, you should remember that clinical and laboratory findings are both necessary to prove diagnosis.
Myasthenia gravis: This neuromuscular disease leads to muscle weakness, especially in the eyes and face. To be eligible for benefits, you need a diagnosis along with:
- Difficulty in speaking, breathing, and swallowing
- Muscle weakness of extremities when performing repetitive activities
Muscular dystrophy: This group of diseases cause gradual weakness and loss of muscle mass. Diagnosis along with a disorganization of motor function allows you to qualify for benefits.
Degenerative diseases: Huntington’s Chorea and Friedreich’s Ataxia are specifically mentioned and you can qualify for benefits if you have difficulty moving your limbs or suffer from chronic brain syndrome (dementia).
Cerebral trauma: An accident, fall or any kind of violent outside force that injures the brain can cause disability and affect various body functions. Seizures, inability to use muscles, and speech impairment are taken into account when deciding a disability case under this listing.
Syringomyelia: When a fluid-filled cyst develops within your spinal cord, it is called Syringomyelia. It can cause pain and weakness in muscles. You can qualify for benefits if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Disorganization of motor function
- Impairment in bulbar muscles that control functions involving the throat (swallowing, breathing, speaking, etc)
Spinal cord or nerve root lesions: you can qualify for disability benefits if these lesions are accompanied by disorganization of motor function.
Benign brain tumors: Benign brain tumors are graded on a 1-4 scale. Common symptoms include headaches, seizures, paralysis on one side of the body or speech problems. You can be eligible for benefits if you fulfill the criteria for epilepsy. In addition, you need to show that you have problems communicating and have disorganization of your motor function.
Stroke: Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and are typically caused by a blockage of blood supply to the brain (Ischemic stroke), or a broken blood vessel in the brain (Hemorrhagic strokes). You can be eligible for SSDI benefits if you are unable to speak and write, and have difficulty in moving your limbs for more than 3 months after your stroke.
Peripheral neuropathy: This disease is a result of damage to your peripheral nerves, and usually affects your hands and feet. You can qualify for benefits if you have difficulty in moving your arms and feet despite being under treatment.
What Happens When My Neurological Problem Is Not Listed in the Blue Book?
It may be possible that your neurological problem is not specifically listed in Section 11.00 of the Blue Book. However, you can still apply for disability benefits on the basis of Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). This means that the SSA will determine whether you have the RFC to perform job-related tasks. If you do not have the RFC, then you could be eligible for benefits through a medical vocational allowance.
How Can I Get Approved for SSDI Benefits Immediately?
Under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance program, you could get approved for disability benefits within a month. There are a few neurological disorders listed under CAL, and if you provide appropriate and complete documentation, approval for benefits does not take as long as it usually does. Some neurological disorders listed under CAL are Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Progressive Bulbar Palsy and the ALS Parkinsonism Dementia Complex.
How Can I Apply for SSDI Benefits Today?
Neurological problems affect 1 in 4 Americans from all strata of society. If your neurological disorder has prevented you from working for a minimum of a year, you could be eligible for SSDI benefits. Take our free disability evaluation and find out whether you’re eligible today.
Neurological problems in Section 11.00 of the Blue Book do require comprehensive documentation, and compiling this can be a tedious process. Our advocates at Disability United can help you at every stage of the process, and can increase your chances of getting approved.
Request for a free disability evaluation quote or call us now to find out how you can receive the disability benefits you deserve.