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Columbia MO Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSDI benefits for paralysis

Among the most severe injuries suffered by people in Missouri are injuries to the spine and brain. The Social Security Administration has adopted regulations that prescribe the conditions under which such injuries may allow victims to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. This post will summarize those provisions.

The federal requirements governing SSD claims do not explicitly provide benefits for paralysis. Instead, the regulations identify various forms of neurological impairments that qualify for benefits; such impairments are referred to as neurological disorders that cause disorganization of motor function. Some disorders, such as brain injuries, may cause a variety of impairments, including both limitations on motor functioning and cognitive impairment. Spine injuries, on the other hand, usually result only in disruption of motor functioning in the arms and legs. The disorder can result from either illness or trauma.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for disability caused by a stroke

As many Missourians know from the experiences of their friends or family members, a stroke - a clot or burst blood vessel in the brain - can be a devastating condition that prevents the victim from working and interferes with daily living activities. While the likelihood of experiencing a stroke increases with age, persons in their 30s and 40s can suffer from a disabling stroke. This post will address the criteria for proving an SSD claim for a disability caused by a stroke.

The Social Security Administration classifies strokes as a neurological disorder, along with conditions such as epilepsy, benign brain tumors and Parkinsonism. Strokes are specifically called vascular insults to the brain. The SSA regulations define a vascular insult to the brain as "brain cell death caused by in interruption of blood flow within or leading to the brain"; brain cell death can also be caused by a ruptured blood vessel or aneurysm in the brain.

Understanding compassionate allowance SSDI claims

Many people in Missouri are aware that applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can take months or even years to be approved or rejected. In recognition of this fact, the Social Security Administration has established the "CAL" program to expedite the approval process for certain kinds of SSD claims based on serious illnesses.

The SSA has recognized that certain diseases and other medical conditions produce symptoms that are almost certain to be included on the agency's Listing of Impairments, i.e. diseases and illnesses that automatically qualify a person for SSDI benefits. The SSA has published a list of diseases that qualify for a Compassionate Allowance. Illnesses on the CAL list generally produce a qualifying disability that satisfies the requirements for an award of disability benefits.

How work credits affect SSDI eligibility

Most people in Missouri are aware that a person must be totally disabled in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. However, eligibility for SSDI benefits also depends upon whether the person filing an SSD claim has accumulated a sufficient number of what the Social Security Administration calls "work credits."

The federal regulations that govern the SSDI program require that an applicant must have paid in a specified amount of money in order to be eligible for benefits. These payments are called "work credits," and they are accumulated when a worker pays a portion of their wages in Social Security taxes (usually identified as "FICA Taxes" on a paycheck). Starting in 1978, employers are required to report their employees' earnings on an annual basis. The Social Security Administration uses this information to calculate a person's work credits. In 2016, a person earned one work credit for every $1,260 in covered earnings up to $5,040 or four credits in one year.

Helping injured workers make up for lost wages

Aside from the pain and suffering and the medical expenses, one of the biggest stresses Columbia, Missouri, residents might face because of a serious work-related or other injury is lost wages. Such occurrences are never expected, but unfortunately they can happen. If the injury leaves a person permanently unable to work, the financial consequences can be devastating.

Although some injuries may be the responsibility of an employer or negligent party to pay for, in many cases, there is either simply not enough money available to cover all losses or the injury simply does not qualify. In these types of cases, Social Security disability benefits may be an injured person's only hope for replacement income, unless of course the person was also carrying private insurance.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for epilepsy

Many people in Missouri have had first-hand experience with epilepsy, either as a sufferer or as a family member or close friend of a sufferer. As these people know, epilepsy comes in several forms and degrees of severity. This post will address the medical conditions that must be present in order to prove a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim for epilepsy.

Social Security regulations define epilepsy as "a pattern of recurrent and unprovoked seizures that are manifestations of abnormal electrical activity in the brain." SSDI regulations recognize two types of disabling seizures: generalized tonic-clonic seizures and dyscognitive seizures. The former class is characterized by loss of consciousness accompanied by sudden muscle tensing followed by rapid cycles of muscle contraction and relaxation (sometimes called convulsions). Tonic-clonic seizures involve altered states of consciousness without convulsions or loss of muscle control.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for heart disease

Heart disease afflicts many Missourians and interferes with their ability to carry out the functions and duties of their jobs. In many cases, heart disease can provide the basis for an award of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This post will provide an overview of the various kinds of heart disease that may establish the basis for a successful SSD claim.

The SSA includes all forms of heart disease under the term "cardiovascular impairment." A cardiovascular impairment is any disorder that affects the proper functioning of the circulatory system, including arteries, veins, capillaries and lymphatic drainage). Cardiovascular impairment is the result of one or more kinds of heart disease: chronic heart failure, pain caused by myocardial ischemia (blockage of the arteries of the heart), syncope (an obstruction of blood flow or disturbance in the heart's rhythm) and reduced oxygen concentration in the blood. Cardiovascular impairment also includes disorders of the veins or arteries such as obstruction, rupture or aneurysm.

What kind of medical evidence is required for SSDI benefits?

Most Missourians seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits understand that they must support their claim with medical evidence showing that they are disabled. However, very few potential SSDI applicants understand the precise nature of the medical evidence that is required to prove the existence of a qualifying disability. This post will summarize the requirements of the federal regulations that govern disability benefits.

Each type of illness or injury will, of course, require different kinds of medical evidence. An x-ray may be required to prove a bone abnormality, while a blood test may be required to show that the claimant has a disease such as leukemia. Nevertheless, the types of medical evidence have many common features. SSA regulations require that medical evidence be provided by an "acceptable medical source." These sources include physicians, psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists and speech-language pathologists. Each specialist must be licensed or otherwise qualified in his or her specialty.

SSDI benefits for panic attacks

Many Missourians suffer from a mental disorder commonly referred to as "panic attacks." Panic attacks are acute episodes of anxiety that are brought on when the patient faces a particular object or situation. If the level of anxiety is sufficiently severe, the person will be unable to function in a work environment. This post will explain how repeated panic attacks can be the basis for a successful SSD claim for benefits.

Panic attacks are considered to be one of several anxiety-related disorders for which SSD benefits may be awarded. In these disorders, anxiety is either the predominant symptom or is the result of attempts to confront and master the cause of the disorder. A benefits claimant must produce medically documented findings showing one of the following: generalized persistent anxiety; persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation and a compelling desire to avoid the object, situation or activity; recurrent severe panic attacks resulting in sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear or terror at least once per weak; recurrent obsessions or compulsions; or recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience.

How are claims for SSD benefits evaluated?

Most Missourians know that the process for obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is run by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the federal government. Unfortunately, the sheer size of the SSA tends to obscure the process that is used to review and approve or deny applications for SSD claims. This post will describe the essential features of that process.

All applications for disability insurance benefits must be filed in writing or on line. The application is first reviewed by an SSA field office to determine if the applicant is financially eligible. The second stage is a review of the applicant's disability. If an application passes steps one and two, the file is next reviewed to determine whether the applicant's mental or physical condition satisfies the SSA's written criteria for disability, called the Listing of Impairments. If an applicant's medical condition satisfies one of the items on the Listing of Impairments, the application is usually approved and benefits are awarded based upon the applicant's financial situation.

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