Tag: ssdi benefits

Does Traumatic Brain Injury Qualify for Disability?

Does Traumatic Brain Injury Qualify for Disability?

TBI disability benefits

Across the United States, more than 13.5 million people live with a disability caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI). That number continues to grow by as many as 90,000 people per year, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).

After any kind of serious injury that results in long-term cognitive or physical deficits, many victims and their families may wonder how they will continue to support their families financially. 

If you are unable to return to work because of the effects of a TBI, it’s important to know what resources are available to you, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Find out everything you need to know about TBI disability benefits from Social Security Disability Advocates USA.

Are TBIs Considered a Disability?

A traumatic brain injury alone is not considered a disability in its own right. Although TBIs can be very serious injuries with devastating effects, not everyone who sustains head trauma will become disabled. Others may temporarily suffer ill effects but eventually make a full recovery from their injuries. 

For this reason, having a history of a traumatic brain injury is not enough to automatically qualify someone for TBI disability benefits. Your condition must also meet other strict criteria described in the Social Security Administration (SSA) blue book, a list of impairments that meet the administration’s disability eligibility requirements.

What Is the Blue Book Definition of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

According to Section 11.18 of  the SSA listing of neurological impairments and evidentiary requirements, a TBI is defined as a fractured skull, closed head injury, or penetration of brain tissue by an object. An individual who has suffered a TBI and also medically documents the following signs and symptoms meets SSA blue book requirements:

(A) Disorganization of motor function in two extremities (arms, legs, or a combination of both) resulting in an extreme limitation in the following tasks for more than three months after the injury:

  • Standing up from a seated position
  • Balancing while standing or walking, 
  • Using the upper extremities


(B) Marked limitation in physical functioning, and limited mental functioning in at least one of the following areas for more than three months after the injury:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself

What If My Disability Is Mental, But Not Physical?

The TBI section of the blue book addresses mental or cognitive disabilities resulting from brain injuries, but also has a physical limitation component. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot qualify for TBI disability benefits. 

If you or a loved one has sustained persistent mental problems after a TBI but do not suffer from marked or consistent physical impairments, you’ll want to consult Section 12.02 of the blue book, which covers neurocognitive disorders including those caused by traumatic brain injuries.

Blue Book Definition of Neurocognitive Disorders

Neurocognitive disorders are characterized by a clinically significant decline in cognitive functioning. This umbrella term includes not only cognitive decline due to TBIs, but also dementia, progressive brain tumors, and other neurological diseases. To qualify for disability benefits based on a neurocognitive disorder, your medical documentation must support the following requirements:

(A) Medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of these cognitive areas:

  • Complex attention
  • Executive function
  • Learning and memory
  • Language
  • Perceptual-motor
  • Social cognition


(B) Extreme limitation of at least one or marked limitation of at least two of the following areas of mental functioning:

  • Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • Interacting with others
  • Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace
  • Adapting or managing oneself


(C) Your mental disorder in this listing category is serious and persistent—that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least two years, and there is supporting evidence of the following:

  • Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder, AND
  • There has been only marginal adjustment—that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life

What If My TBI Disability Doesn’t Meet Blue Book Eligibility Requirements?

The SSA blue book is a useful tool in determining whether or not you may be eligible for disability benefits, but it isn’t all or nothing. Disability claims are reviewed on a case by case basis. If the exact details of your condition are not listed in the blue book, but you suffer from a combination of partial listings, you may very well still qualify for SSDI benefits.

In addition, you may still be eligible for benefits if the SSA determines that your physical or mental limitations keep you from working any job. The only way to find out for sure whether or not you may be entitled to TBI disability benefits is to begin the Social Security disability application process.

How Do I Get Help Applying for TBI Disability Benefits?

Determining eligibility is a long, often drawn-out process. Many first-time applicants are denied and must file an appeal for reconsideration. You or your lawyer will need to provide sufficient medical documentation of your condition (i.e., diagnosis, treatments, medications, etc.) in order for your disability to be validated by the Social Security Administration. 

Those with severe TBI-related disabilities may qualify for benefits after as little as three months, but for many with more moderate injuries, the wait can stretch as long as one year just to be able to file your first application. This is not to mention the application and appeals process, which can go on for months or even years.

When your family’s financial wellbeing is on the line, getting help with TBI disability benefits is essential. To expedite the process of qualifying for the highest possible benefits amount, it is advisable to contact a Social Security disability lawyer who knows the ins and outs of meeting stringent SSA eligibility standards.

Contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA

Need help with the application or appeals process? Wondering if you have a disability case? Contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today for a free no obligation review of your case. An experienced attorney who specializes in SSDI cases will go over all the details of your injuries, limitations, and get you the maximum benefit amount for you and your family.

Call us today at 602-952-3200 to schedule your free consultation. Alternatively, send us a message with your case details and a representative will contact you directly. You can also find out more by connecting with a representative on LiveChat  , or by reading about the seven ultimate disability secrets the SSA doesn’t want you to know about.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
Can I Get Financial Aid While Waiting For Social Security Disability?

Can I Get Financial Aid While Waiting For Social Security Disability?

financial aid while waiting for disability

A recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is shedding new light on a widespread epidemic of financial insecurity affecting those who apply for Social Security disability benefits. 

The report, released last month, revealed that between 2014 and 2019, around 48,000 people filed for bankruptcy while awaiting a decision on their disability appeals. An additional 109,725 people died between 2008 and 2019 while waiting for their appeal.

This kind of delay is unacceptable, and low-income disabled Americans are particularly at risk during the economic downturn of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re thinking about applying for disability benefits and are wondering if you can get financial aid while waiting for disability, this guide is for you. Find out more from the social security disability lawyers at Social Security Disability Advocates USA.

Does the Social Security Administration Provide Financial Aid While You Wait?

The Social Security disability application process can take a long time in and of itself. On top of this, first-time applicants are frequently denied. This means you can be waiting months or even years to get the disability benefits you need (unless your disability is severe enough to qualify you for compassionate allowance, in which case you may be automatically approved).

While a social security disability lawyer can help you streamline the process of getting approved for benefits, how you’ll generate income while waiting for disability is an important consideration. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not automatically provide any intermediary assistance to those waiting for disability decisions. 

The only exception to this rule is if you qualify for expedited reinstatement—that is, you qualified for disability benefits in the past and lost your benefits due to earning too much money, but have been prevented from working again due to the same disability. In this case, the SSA will issue disability benefits in the interim while your case is reviewed.

If you are able to do so, you do have the option to work while you wait for your claim or appeal to be processed. However, you must not earn a monthly income of more than $1,260, which the SSA considers to be Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) and which may disqualify you from receiving Supplemental Security Income and affect your disability eligibility as well.

Where to Get Financial Aid While Waiting For Disability?

Although the SSA doesn’t offer any interim financial assistance for disability applicants, there are many state and local resources that may be able to help you stay afloat until your disability benefits are approved. Check out the following list of resources to help get you started.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 

TANF is a short-term state-administered program designed to assist those who are pregnant or responsible for a child under the age of 19 who are also low-income, unemployed, or otherwise unable to work. TANF provides cash benefits to help you pay for food, shelter, utilities, and other living expenses. 

Each U.S. state has its own TANF program, so you will need to apply directly through your state of residence. See the Office of Family Assistance website for help applying.

Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)

Also commonly known as food stamps, SNAP is another federally-funded, state-administered program that can provide financial assistance while waiting for disability in the form of a monthly stipend you can use at most grocery stores. See the U.S. Department of Agriculture website for information on eligibility and how to apply.

Other Department of Social Services Programs

For additional assistance, contact your local Department of Social Services, where you can find more information on child care, energy assistance, medical programs, and other forms of aid that may be available to you. If you have applied for SSI, many states also offer Interim Public Assistance loans to be repaid once you begin receiving benefits.

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation

Your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) may also be able to help you by providing an assessment by a physician of your current abilities and connecting you with available services. This assessment will not only help VR connect you with resources, but can also help document your disability and improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits.

Have More Questions About Disability Benefits?

To get help with applying for Social Security Disability programs, appealing a decision, or just to talk about all your SSDI legal options, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

We’ll schedule a free consultation to review your case and help you navigate locating financial aid while waiting for disability. Call us today at 602-952-3200, chat with us via LiveChat, or send us a message using our secure contact form

For more information about disability benefits, check out the ultimate disability secrets the SSA doesn’t want you to know and be sure to follow us on Facebook.

The Basics of Social Security Disability

The Basics of Social Security Disability

SSDI basics
Want to Know More SSDI Basics? Contact SSDA USA today!

Social Security programs can be difficult to deal with. There are a multitude of programs that help a variety of different groups. So the question is, which groups do you fit into? Do you qualify for any social security programs? We know it’s confusing, so allow us from Social Security Disability Advocates USA break down the SSI and SSDI basics.

To begin, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two entirely different programs. Qualifying for one program does not necessarily mean you will qualify for the other. There are different standards that you must meet for both programs. Let’s go over the differences.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security Disability Insurance is a program that the Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees and funds. SSDI provides assistance to disabled individuals and their families. You pay into this program when you work via FICA taxes. There are a variety of requirements that you must meet before you qualify for SSDI.

SSDI Prerequisites

  • Meet the Definition: You must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled. Partial or temporary disabilities do not qualify. You must have a disability that 1) prevents you from doing the work you did before, 2) has lasted or is expected to last for no less than one year, or is expected to result in death, and 3) prevents you from doing other types of work in addition to the work you did before you became disabled. This means that your disability must interfere with everyday activities, e.g. standing, walking, etc., to the point that you cannot make a living.
  • Documents: When you apply for SSDI, you must submit 1) your social security number, 2) your birth/baptismal certificate, 3) names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors who took care of you, 4) names and the dosages of all medicines you take, 5) medical records and test results, 6) a summary of your work duties, and 7) a copy of your most recent W-2 form.

SSDI Basics

Once the SSA determines you meet their definition of disabled, they forward your case to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in your state. There, you must submit all medical records for review if you want to qualify for SSDI. Disability specialists will ask your doctors about your condition, when your medical condition began, how your medical condition limited your activities, information regarding test results, and what treatment you received. They will also ask your doctors a multitude of other questions that we cannot list here.

  • Work: One of the key requirements for SSDI is work. You must have worked enough and earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Generally, 10 years is the minimum number of years you need to work. This is because you receive one work credit for every $1,320 in 2018, up to 4 a year. If you earn the maximum number of credits a year for ten years, you will have 40 work credits, which is generally the minimum amount. Younger people do not need as many work credits. The number of required work credits goes up with age. Working credits allow that you are “insured” under FICA regulations. In addition, your monthly SSDI benefits are based on how much you earned during your working years. Also, if you are working, you cannot earn above the Substantial Gains Activity (SGA) monthly limit. If you do earn above the SGA, you probably won’t qualify for SSDI.
  • Age: You must be younger than your full retirement age. If you reach your full retirement age (generally around age 65-67), your benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits.

The Social Security Administration will send a letter to you after a decision has been made regarding your case. If you disagree with the ruling, you can appeal it. Keep in mind, applications for SSDI take approximately five months to look over, and an application to appeal a decision can take another five months to review.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income is another program that the SSA oversees. However, SSI aids only individuals with low income who are blind, suffer from disabilities, or are age 65 or older. There are other important differences to take note of.

SSI Requirements

  • Meet the Definition: To qualify for SSI, you must have limited income resources and be blind, disabled, or age 65 or older. In addition, you must reside in the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands, not be absent from the country for a full calendar month or more or for 30 consecutive days or more, and be either a U.S. citizen or national or a qualifying non-citizen.
  • Documents: You will still need to prove to the SSA and to your state’s DDS office that you are in fact disabled and qualify for benefits.
  • Work: Unlike SSDI, SSI is need-based, so work credits are not required. Because of this, though, your monthly benefit is not calculated based on your earnings. You may therefore receive less than you would if you had qualified for SSDI. Some individuals may qualify for both SSDI and SSI.
  • Age: The age range is more flexible, as you can receive SSI benefits even if you are 65 or older.

With the requirements out of the way, let’s go over some other basic characteristics.

Medicaid and Medicare

Generally, people who qualify for SSI immediately qualify for Medicaid, a joint federal-state healthcare program. Medicaid is a very comprehensive health care coverage program. People who qualify for SSDI, on the other hand, qualify for Medicare two years after they qualified for SSDI. Medicare is a health care insurance program that covers most hospital visits and most primary medical care. Medicare is generally not as comprehensive as Medicaid, as there are insurance “gaps” that can be filled by purchasing supplemental coverage plans. An individual may qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, and they will both work to make doctor’s visits and hospital bills as little as possible.

Family Benefits

Individuals who qualify for SSI do not have their benefits extended to their family. However, people with SSDI may have family members who can qualify for benefits, too. If you have SSDI, your family may qualify for benefits if 1) Your spouse is age 62 or older, 2) Aforementioned spouse is caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled, 3) Your unmarried child (or in some cases a grandchild or step-child) is under age 18, or under age 19 if still in school, 4) Your unmarried child who is 18 or older acquired a disability for age 22.

The total disability benefit for your family is approximately 150% – 180% of your monthly disability benefits. For example, if the monthly limit is 150% of your benefit and you have two children, each child would receive 25% of your monthly benefits. This is because you receive 100% of your monthly benefits, and each child receiving 25% makes up for the remaining 50% of the limit.

Have Questions About Social Security?

If you still have questions about the SSI or SSDI basics, contact Social Security Disability Advocates today! We are available 24/7, and we are happy to answer all your questions. Call us at 602-952-3200, or contact us online and check out our LiveChat feature.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

10 Things You Must Report to the Social Security Administration

10 Things You Must Report to the Social Security Administration

report to Social Security
Contact us if you have questions about what you should report to Social Security.

Once your application for Social Security Disability Insurance is approved, you can expect to begin receiving monthly benefits payments from the Social Security Administration. However, it’s important to understand that there are certain things that you will need to report to Social Security Administration to ensure that you retain your eligibility.

The following are ten important things that you have to report to Social Security Administration:

1. Marital Status

If you’re getting married and you are collecting SSDI benefits, then you should be able to continue collecting those benefits. However, you’ll want to make sure that you’re in the clear by reporting your marital status to the Social Security Administration. In the case of Supplemental Security Income, you may lose your benefits since both you and your spouse’s income will be considered to determine your eligibility.

If you are getting divorced and your spouse was collecting SSDI benefits, then you will be able to continue receiving benefits if you are over the age of 62 or if you were married for more than ten years.

2. Work Status

The whole point of SSDI is that it’s meant to provide financial assistance to those who are unable to work because of a disability. If you go back to work, your disability may be questioned. However, you can generally still work part-time as long as you don’t make more than the earned income limit ($1,220 for 2019) and as long as what you’re doing isn’t a direct contradiction to your disability (such as working construction with a bad back).

If you make more than the limit, a trial work period will be triggered. You will be able to work for nine months before the trial work period ends and the Social Security Administration will determine that your disability is no longer preventing you from being able to work, after which benefits will cease.

3. You are Moving

The moment you’ve decided to move, you’ll need to provide your new address and phone number. You should also let the Social Security Administration know if any other family members getting benefits are moving with you. Even though you’re being paid by direct deposit, they will need to be able to contact you. If they are unable to contact you because you moved and changed phone numbers, then your benefits will stop.

4. Additional Benefits

If you’re eligible for workers’ compensation or for disability benefits from certain government programs, then your SSDI benefits may be reduced. You will need to report to the Social Security Administration if you are applying for another type of disability benefits program, you’re receiving another disability benefit, you’re receiving a lump-sum settlement, or your benefits either change or cease.

5. Switching Financial Institutions

The way you receive your SSDI benefits is through direct deposit. This means that if you change financial institutions, you will need to let the Social Security Administration know so that they can deposit your benefits to the right account. You can do this online or over the phone. You will need to provide 30 to 60 days’ notice to the Social Security Administration if you’re changing accounts for your direct deposit, which means you should keep your old account open until the switch is made.

6. Pension

If you begin receiving a pension from a place of employment for which you did not pay Social Security taxes (such as the federal civil service system or a foreign government), then you will need to report this as your SSDI benefits will most likely be reduced. You should also report to Social Security Administration if your pension amount changes.

7. Change in School Attendance

If you’re attending college, you will need to let the Social Security Administration know. They will be concerned about the following:

  1. That the act of going to school is in direct conflict with your disability. For example, if you have severe anxiety, then attending classes shouldn’t be possible. However, you may be attending night classes or online classes instead.
  2. That what you’re studying conflicts with your disability. If you’re studying welding when your condition is supposed to have left your arms incapable of functioning properly, your disability will be questioned.
  3. When you begin going to class too often. If you’re going to class and doing classwork to the point where it’s taking up the same amount of time that a full-time job would take up, they will question whether your disability will limit you from being able to work.

8. Improvement of Medical Condition

The Social Security Administration only pays benefits to individuals whose disabilities are bad enough to prevent them from being able to work. If your medical condition improves, they will want to know so that they can conduct a review to determine if you’re still eligible. Do not try to hide any improvements in your medical condition from them as they will do a periodic review anyway–and if they find that you haven’t been disabled for some time, you’ll not only lose benefits, but you may owe money back.

The SSA considers three types of disability cases–expected, possible, and not expected. These refer to whether they believe your condition will improve or not. If you’re an expected case, they will review your case every six to 18 months once your benefits start. The Social Security Administration reviews you case every three years or so. If you’re not an expected case (meaning that the disability is most likely permanent), they will only review your case every five to seven years.

9. Change in Citizenship

If you’re collecting benefits and are not an American citizen, then you’ll need to inform the Social Security Administration if you become a citizen. You should also report any non-citizen status changes. You will need to provide new evidence that you’re in the U.S. legally as well if your immigration status expires.

10. Change in Living Arrangements

You must report certain changes in living arrangements as well. For example, if you’re moving into or out of a nursing home or assisted living facility (or other similar institutions), then this could affect the amount of your benefit payments. In fact, there are a few states in which you will have to report changes in living arranges even if something like your share of living expenses change or if your cooking facilities change.

The Importance of  Ensuring you Report to Social Security Administration

You must report these ten things to the Social Security Administration for many important reasons. First, you may lose your benefits if you’re not honest with them. Additionally, you may lose your benefits because not reporting certain information because of what that lack of information entails. For example, not being able to contact you because you moved.

Secondly, some of these things may affect your benefit amount. You might be tempted to not report something that could affect your benefit amount. Specifically, so that you can keep collecting the same amount; however, this is a terrible idea. The Social Security Administration will find out immediately; you will owe the money that they overpaid to you as a result. This means that you could find yourself in a significant amount of debt down the line.

If you are collecting SSDI benefits, then always make sure to report to the Social Security Administration if anything changes. For more advice on maintaining your SSDI eligibility, or for help with the application process; call us at 602-952-3200 to schedule a free consultation with Social Security Disability Advocates USA today. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, don’t wait! We look forward to answering all of your questions (and to chatting with you via our LiveChat feature).

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.