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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.

Disorganization of motor function means difficulty in the movement of two extremities, either both legs or arms or one leg and one arm. The criteria include the inability to stand from a seated position, maintain balance while standing or walking or use the arms, fingers, wrists, hands, and shoulders.

Most forms of paralysis originate in the spinal column. Spinal cord disorders include complete loss of motor function for at least 3 months, loss of motor function in two extremities for 3 consecutive months or more, or loss of mental functioning for at least 3 months in understanding, recalling information, interacting with others or concentrating or maintaining a pace. For disorders that are caused by a complete severing of the spinal cord, the 3 month waiting period may be eliminated.

As with all disability categories, the injury or disease must persist or be expected to persist for at least 12 months and interfere with the victim's ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. The existence of the paralysis must be proved by reliable medical evidence; the disabling effects of the injury must be proved by employment records and other evidence showing that the victim can no longer perform their work functions.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, 11.08, Spinal Cord Disorders," accessed on Jan. 8, 2017

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