TBI Settlements and Disability Benefits
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can affect every aspect of your life, including your ability to move, think, and process emotions. TBIs are often costly to treat and could prevent you from earning a living or participating in the activities you love. However, disability benefits could help you and your family make ends meet — and if someone else caused your injury, you could also seek compensation from them through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
At Law Offices of Pius Joseph, we are committed to helping TBI survivors get the peace of mind and financial security they need. Founding attorney Pius Joseph has represented injured Californians in personal injury lawsuits for more than 30 years and has taken more than 1,000 cases to court. We have recovered millions for our clients and will work aggressively to secure the results you deserve. Call us today or visit our contact page for a free consultation with a TBI lawyer in Pasadena.
What Kinds of Disabilities Can a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Cause?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, TBIs can lead to the following types of disabilities:
- Cognitive disabilities – Many disabilities from brain injuries affect the patient’s cognitive and mental functions. A traumatic brain injury could leave someone unable to form new short-term or recover long-term memories. A TBI can also affect a patient’s ability to focus or concentrate on complex tasks. Other possible cognitive disabilities from brain injuries include a shortened attention span, loss of sense of time and space, difficulty speaking or writing, and difficulty understanding what other people are saying.
- Physical disabilities – A TBI can impact a patient’s physical capabilities because the brain controls and regulates most of the body’s physical functions. For example, some brain injury victims struggle with movement or coordination. They may suffer from partial or total paralysis. A traumatic brain injury can also lead to changes in a patient’s senses and the loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Emotional disabilities – Traumatic brain injuries can cause significant emotional problems, both directly and indirectly. Someone with a brain injury might have trouble controlling their temper or regulating their emotions. Others lose their inhibitions, making them more prone to risky decisions. A brain injury’s debilitating physical and mental effects can also lead to depression and anxiety among survivors.
Traumatic Brain Injury Disability Benefits
There are two kinds of Social Security disability benefits you can apply for after a traumatic brain injury. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is what most people consider disability benefits and supports qualifying individuals with long-term or permanent disabilities.
Before you can receive SSDI benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of disability and have earned enough work credits through previous jobs that paid into the Social Security system. Generally, you must have 40 work credits before applying for SSDI, though younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
The other type of Social Security disability benefit is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unlike SSDI, SSI benefits are need-based, so you do not need work credits to qualify. SSI benefits help disabled adults and children who experience financial distress, though people over age 65 can qualify without a disability in certain circumstances. A traumatic brain injury lawyer can tell you what benefits you may qualify for and how to claim them.
How Do I Establish My TBI as a Disability?
When the SSA reviews an application for benefits, they base their decisions on specific criteria. The SSA maintains lists of disabilities that may qualify someone for benefits: one for adults and another for children. According to the SSA’s criteria for traumatic brain injuries in adults, you might be eligible for disability benefits if you meet one of the following sets of criteria:
- You have difficulty with movement or coordination in two or more limbs, affecting your ability to stand, keep your balance when walking or standing, or use your upper extremities. These effects must last for at least three months after the injury.
- You undergo changes or limitations in your body’s physical functions and one of several areas of your mental functions: understanding and applying information, interacting with others, concentrating on tasks, or controlling your emotions and behavior. These effects must last for at least three months after the injury.
Medical evidence is crucial when you apply for disability benefits, so you should include all your relevant medical records with your application. The SSA may also want non-medical proof to support your claim, such as statements from your friends, family, or coworkers about how your injury impedes your ability to work.
Can I Start My TBI Personal Injury Case and Also Apply for Disability?
It can take several months or longer for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to approve your application for disability benefits. Because of how long it takes for the SSA to review an application, you can and should start your personal injury case while awaiting the SSA’s decision. Working with a lawyer who has experience handling traumatic brain injury cases is essential to help you understand the legal system and disability process.
Will Disability Benefits Affect my TBI Settlement?
Winning a personal injury settlement should not affect your SSDI benefits. If you meet the SSA’s definition of disability and have sufficient evidence to support your claim, SSDI benefits last until your disability heals, you reach retirement age, or you die.
On the other hand, a personal injury settlement could disrupt your SSI benefits. SSI is a need-based benefit, and you likely will not meet the criteria to keep receiving benefits if you secure a large settlement. An experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer can tell you more about how a settlement may affect your disability benefits.
Get Help from our Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Pius Joseph, we know how devastating traumatic brain injuries can be and want to help you recover the resources you need to care for yourself, both now and in the future. Call us today or visit our contact page for a free consultation with a traumatic brain injury attorney in Pasadena.