October 4, 2012

Social Security Disability Benefits and Strokes

I have represented many of my Indiana neighbors who have experienced strokes, and one thing is certain – none of them have been exactly alike.  Some of my clients experienced a wide variety of physical and mental impairments leading up to their strokes, while others seemed to be perfectly healthy until they experienced their strokes.  One thing they all had in common, though, was that having a stroke altered their lives in ways many of us may could never imagine.  As a Social Security disability attorney, I realize that the particular facts of each case always matter.  With that in mind, I collect medical documentation for each of my clients that will paint a clear picture of the symptoms that person experiences, and how it affects his daily life.

As I mentioned before, a person may experience many different symptoms after a stroke, and the ability to recover from those symptoms can vary greatly from individual to individual as well.  Some of the symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Numbness, tingling, and weakness
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Problems with balance and walking
  • Cognitive problems
  • Vision problems
  • Headaches

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize stroke and the symptoms that accompany a stroke as disabling conditions.  In technical terms, a stroke is referred to as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA).  The SSA addresses stroke in its Listing of Impairments under listing 11.04: Central Nervous System Vascular Accident.  I have found that the SSA and most Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) consider these listings first when trying to determine whether a condition is disabling.  However, many times they fall back on a more generalized look at an individual’s physical residual functional capacity to determine if she is disabled.  When the ALJ looks at your physical residual functional capacity, he is deciding whether the symptoms you experience after your stroke, such as your inability to walk or to manipulate small objects with your hands, prevent you from working a full time job.  Since the length of time it takes to recover from a stroke and the amount of permanent damage done by a stroke varies from person to person, the judge must consider the specific facts of each case.  If you have been receiving consistent treatment from a specialist, such as a neurologist, those medical records can be very beneficial.  They will show the types of treatments you have tried, whether you are making progress in your recovery, and whether your doctor thinks you have a good chance of recovery or not.  These records can be the key to a successful outcome in your disability claim.

Many of my clients who have suffered from strokes simply have no energy throughout the day, and they complain of problems concentrating or focusing.  Their speech may also cause major problems, because their strokes have diminished their ability to find words and to speak clearly.  All of them deserve to have their disability claims handled by someone who will pay close attention to the specific details of their cases, and who will address all the concerns that they and their families have as they navigate the disability process.

The Social Security disability appeals process can be overwhelming, especially when you are dealing with adjusting to life after you have had a stroke.  It is important to remember that Social Security has strict deadlines you must meet while you are appealing your claim, and if you miss those deadlines it could cause months of delays and additional hardships.  I take great pride in helping individuals who suffer from disabling conditions, and I am glad to use my experience with Social Security disability appeals to strive for the best outcome possible.

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