Earlier this summer, the Social Security Administration announced that it would reassess the criteria it uses to determine whether individuals who suffer from brain injuries or neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease are eligible for disability benefits.
In real terms, the announcement means that Oregon residents who suffer from physical disorders included in neurological category of impairments may soon have claims for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits evaluated under new criteria. This is good news because the effects of neurological and brain injury-related disorders on an applicant’s ability to work are often difficult to demonstrate or evaluate fairly.
Specific neurological conditions contained in the SSA’s official Listings of Impairments include:
- Epilepsy (convulsive or non-convulsive)
- Benign brain tumors
- Parkinsonian syndrome (Parkinson’s disease)
- Strokes and cerebral vascular accidents
- Cerebral palsy
- Spinal cord or nerve root lesions
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Anterior poliomyelitis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Subacute combined cord degeneration (pernicious anemia)
- Degenerative disease not listed elsewhere, such as Huntington’s Chorea, Friedreich’s ataxia or spino-cerebellar degeneration
- Chronic brain syndrome
- Cerebral trauma.
As you may know, the SSA has developed medical evidence requirements for every type of physical or mental impairment in its official listings, including those listed above. These requirements establish the level of severity a condition (neurological or other) must rise to in order to be considered “disabling.” Additionally, SSA decision makers also have to consider factors such as age and work history in their evaluation process.
Soon, however — if the changes most observers expect are actually implemented — individuals seeking disability benefits for physical conditions such as epilepsy could be looking at a much faster and friendlier claims process.
Source: Digital Journal, “SSA to Revisit Disability Benefits Criteria for Neurological Disorders,” Aug. 25, 2012