Brain Aneurysms and Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of a brain aneurysm?
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis
Approximately 30,000 people in the United States suffer from a brain aneurysm each year. Most brain aneurysms are small; 50-80% do not rupture and in many cases a person may not even know they have a brain aneurysm. In cases of ruptured brain aneurysms, 50% are fatal and 66% of those who survive suffer permanent neurological damage. Though brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people over the age of 40, they can occur in children. If you are suffering from the effects of a brain aneurysm you may qualify for disability benefits.
A brain aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain.
This weak area becomes worn out from the constant flow of blood and bulges out. Most brain aneurysms don’t rupture, create health problems, or symptoms, but a leaking or ruptured brain aneurysm can cause bleeding in the brain or a stroke. When a brain aneurysm ruptures it directly damages surrounding cells and increases pressure inside the skull. A rupture may also disrupt blood and oxygen flow to the brain resulting in loss of consciousness or death.
Symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm include:
- Sudden severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Drooping eyelid
- Blurred or double vision
- Loss of balance or coordination
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from a Brain Aneurysm. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Unruptured brain aneurysms are usually discovered during tests for other conditions.
- Pain above and behind the eye
- Blurred or double vision
- Dilated pupils
- Drooping eyelid
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the face
- Difficulty speaking
The cause of brain aneurysms remains unknown, but it’s believed brain aneurysms develop as a result of thinning artery walls.
Most brain aneurysms form at the forks or branches in arteries because blood vessels are weaker there. A brain aneurysm can appear anywhere, but they are most common in the arteries at the base of the brain. Another possible cause is a blood vessel defect at birth.
Other risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Head injury
- Connective tissue disorders and diseases affecting blood vessels
- Older age
- Cancer/tumors in the head and neck
- Drug or alcohol abuse, especially cocaine
- Family history of brain aneurysms
Among patients admitted to emergency rooms for headaches, one in 100 have a ruptured brain aneurysm.
An accurate diagnosis is critical as an initial hemorrhage can be fatal or result in serious neurological damage. Tests performed to diagnose brain aneurysms include CT scans, MRIs, angiograms and cerebral fluid tests. Immediate treatment is necessary because a ruptured brain aneurysm will probably bleed again. Treatment involves a few options, but all the procedures have risks, particularly bleeding in the brain or loss of blood flow to the brain.
- Surgical clipping. A procedure to close off an aneurysm where a neurosurgeon places a tiny metal clip on the aneurysm to stop blood flow into it.
- Endovascular treatment. A catheter is inserted into an artery and threaded through the body to the aneurysm.
- Flow diverter surgery. A stent is inserted inside an artery which becomes a wall inside the vessel to divert blood away from the aneurysm.
A doctor will consider the patient’s age, health, and family history as well as the size and location of the aneurysm when deciding treatment.
They may also prescribe pain relievers, medications to prevent strokes and seizures and rehabilitation therapy to relearn skills lost from brain damage.
Qualifying for Disability for a Brain Aneurysm
Complications that may develop after a ruptured brain aneurysm can be long-lasting and life threatening, including re-bleeding and hydrocephalus.
If you suffer from a brain aneurysm, you may not be able to perform your job or any other daily tasks. In some unruptured aneurysms, the risks of procedures outweigh the benefits and treatment may not keep symptoms under control. Even after surgery and other treatments, you may still experience headaches, nausea and vomiting. You may not be able to drive and have difficulty reading or standing for long periods of time.
The Social Security Administration recognizes brain aneurysms as an impairment in its Blue Book under Section 11.04, Vascular Insult to the Brain: “brain cell death caused by an interruption of blood flow within or leading to the brain, or by a hemorrhage from a ruptured blood vessel or aneurysm in the brain.”
Whether or not you are eligible for Social Security Disability Income will depend on the severity of your symptoms and physical and mental limitations. In order to meet the criteria of this listing and qualify, you must show medical evidence of the following:
- Sensory or motor aphasia resulting in ineffective speech or communication lasting a least 3 consecutive months after the insult.
- Interference with movement of both lower extremities, or both upper extremities, or one upper extremity and one lower extremity, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities, lasting at least 3 consecutive months after the insult.
- Marked limitation in physical functioning and in one of the following areas of mental functioning, both lasting for at least 3 consecutive months after the insult:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
Social Security looks for a record of at least three months of treatment.
To prove that your limitations and symptoms are disabling, you should be prepared to provide complete medical records to Social Security, including:
- Diagnosis of brain aneurysm
- Imaging studies such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI, angiogram
- Statements and notes from all medical providers detailing symptoms and physical and mental limitations
- Descriptions of prescribed treatments and your responses to treatment
- History of surgeries
- Reports of physical therapy
Some people who have had surgery to repair a brain aneurysm will not qualify under this listing because their condition will have improved, but others may have a reduced functional capacity even after surgery and treatments.
If you do not meet the requirements of Social Security’s listing, Social Security will perform a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment to evaluate whether you are able to perform your job safely on a continuous basis despite your limitations. If Social Security decides you are unable to perform your job, or any other job, you will be found disabled.
Additionally, you may still be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another impairment; for example, arthritis.
Applicants often have more than one illness or injury that prevents them from working full time. By itself one disorder may not meet the requirements of an impairment as stated in Social Security’s Blue Book, but if you have multiple medical conditions, Social Security must consider how those health issues, combined together, limit your ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks. Social Security will also evaluate how your limitations affect your ability to work (called a medical vocational assessment), taking into account whether or not you are able to drive, your age, and level of education.
Brain injury Long-term disability claim:
The denial letter for a Taylor client listed a variety of cardiac issues and concluded that the client was not precluded from performing sedentary labor due to those issues. Her claim for disability was not based on a cardiac condition, however. After her cardiac surgery, she suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage which led to massive bleeding in her brain. According to her neurosurgeon, the client suffered from a class 4-severe physical impairment as well as a class 4-severe mental impairment. She suffered from an inability to use and understand spoken language and short term memory loss. This was due to brain damage which had been objectively documented by MRI and CT scans. Although she attempted to return to work, she was terminated because her cognitive deficits rendered her unable to perform her job. As a result of her brain injury, she was determined to be totally disabled by the Social Security Administration. Her Long Term Disability insurer, Lincoln Financial, denied her claim, however. Bemis, Roach & Reed handled her appeal and was successful in getting her benefits restored.
If you have experienced a brain aneurysm,
you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Income.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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