Spinal Cord Injury and Social Security Disability
Spinal cord injuries are often devastating for victims. These injuries can lead to significant life setbacks and permanent disabilities. It is not uncommon for individuals who have sustained a spinal cord injury to seek disability benefits so that they can have some sort of income. This type of income can be incredibly important for spinal cord injury victims and their family members.
Those who have sustained a spinal cord injury should be able to file a claim for Social Security disability benefits in most situations. Here, our injury lawyers in Nashville analyze the specifics of filing for disability after sustaining a severe injury like this.
How Often do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?
Data available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) shows that there are around 300,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in the US, with approximately 18,000 new spinal cord injury cases developing each year. These incidents occur in a wide variety of ways. Since 2015, the main causes of spinal cord injuries in this country have revolved around vehicle accidents, falls, violent acts, sports injuries, and medical or surgical mistakes.
Qualifying for Disability After a Spinal Cord Injury
In order for a person to obtain disability benefits after a spinal cord injury, they will have to meet the requirements listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. This is the guiding force that lays out the requirements for spinal cord injury disability claims. To summarize the requirements for disability benefits after a spinal cord injury, we see that injury victims must have documented that the spinal cord injury has caused one of the following three conditions:
1. A complete loss of functioning of any body part caused by the spinal cord injury. This can include paralysis of an arm or leg. Those who experience quadriplegia and paraplegia will automatically qualify for benefits under this condition. However, others can qualify under this part of the rules as well. It is not uncommon for spinal cord injury victims to suffer from partial paralysis of body parts or muscles. Additionally, spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis of the bladder, intestines, stomach, or other body parts that would meet the qualifications.
2. An abnormal ability of movement in at least two extremities (including two arms and two legs or one arm and one leg) that results in extreme difficulty in the ability to balance while walking or standing, to stand up from a seated position, or to use the arms or hands.
3. A significant spinal cord problem that is not quite severe enough to fall into the first two categories, but combined with another serious limitation in any of the following mental or emotional areas:
- The ability to remember, understand or use information
- The ability to concentrate or work quickly
- Social interaction difficulties
- The ability to take care of oneself or adapt to new changes
In order to qualify for disability through the Social Security Administration after a spinal cord injury, victims will have to submit various types of evidence to the SSA. This includes the diagnosis from a doctor, various test and scan results, statements from caseworkers and other professionals that provide proof of the condition, and more.
If a spinal cord injury victim does not qualify for full disability benefits based on the criteria mentioned above, they may qualify under the Medical-Vocational Allowance if they cannot work. If an evaluation finds that there is no full-time work that a person can do because of their injury, the claim for disability benefits can be approved even if the Blue Book requirements are not met.