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Stroke and Social Security Disability

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Jan 22, 2014 in Social Security Disability

There’s a persistent modern myth that the average person uses only about ten percent of his brain. Contrary to this common belief, medical science hasn’t found any part of the brain that doesn’t serve an important function. As a result, anything that disables part of the brain has a catastrophic impact on the body’s overall function.

Stroke—once known as apoplexy and now often called a cerebrovascular accident—is exactly that kind or catastrophe.

What a Stroke Does to Your Brain

Strokes occur when blood vessels are blocked from carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain’s cells. Typically, this happens in either of two ways:

  • Blood clots within the brain. A clot can develop inside the blood vessels within the brain (a cerebral thrombus), or a clot can develop elsewhere in the body and be carried by the arteries to the brain (a cerebral embolism). In either case, the clot dams further blood flow to nerves and brain tissue “downstream” from the blockage.
  • Bleeding within the brain. When injury causes weak blood vessel walls to split open, blood can pour out within deep brain tissue (a cerebral hemorrhage) or between the brain and the skull. In short order, the pressure of the blood pool can squeeze small blood vessels closed, starving the brain area they serve.

Brain cells need a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients to work. The result of a blood clot or hemorrhage can be devastating. Brain tissue deprived of oxygen shuts down and dies. Nervous system messages that pass through the affected area of the brain become scrambled, so the stroke victim experiences unusual sensations and lost muscle control. Usually, she falls down and loses consciousness. Unless treatment is immediate, the stroke victim will suffer permanent brain damage and is likely to die.

Nervous system tissue does not grow back after injury. Any brain cells that die in a stroke will never be replaced.

Stroke and SSDI in Pennsylvania

Modern treatment methods—including drug therapy, surgery, physical rehabilitation, and psychological therapy—have demonstrated excellent results in helping people recover from a stroke. Despite medical advances over the last half-century, most stroke victims will experience some permanent loss of physical or cognitive function.

This can have a profound effect on the ability to hold down a job. Fortunately, the federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program exists to provide American workers with basic survival income after disabling strokes. The Social Security Administration evaluates stroke-related disabilities on a regular basis and can award benefits to the patient who has a strong work history.

However, studies show that two initial SSDI applications are rejected for each one that is accepted. This high rejection rate occurs for a number of reasons: incomplete information, missing medical evidence, weak or poorly documented work history, and other failures to submit a persuasive SSDI application.

Stroke victims are often at a disadvantage in filing SSDI claims, because their impairments may limit their power to handle complex tasks with determination and vigor.

Fortunately, the disability lawyers at Schmidt Kramer are up to the challenge. We have a lengthy record of helping central Pennsylvania residents apply for and receive SSDI benefits for cerebrovascular problems, including stroke. If you have a close friend or family member who is facing hardship in applying for disability benefits, share this information. Urge your friend to call us at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 toll-free for a FREE and confidential consultation about how we can help.