Cerebral Atrophy and Qualifying for Disability Benefits
The SSA does not specifically recognize cerebral atrophy in its listing of impairments. However, many of the underlying causes of cerebral atrophy are listed.
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
Cerebral atrophy means shrinkage and a loss of connection between neurons. Some degree of cerebral atrophy, or brain tissue atrophy, is a normal part of aging.
Some degree of cerebral atrophy, or brain tissue atrophy, is a normal part of aging.
Cerebral atrophy means shrinkage and a loss of connection between neurons. The brain reaches its peak size around age 25, and then begins to gradually shrink. After age 60, the average person loses .5 to 1 percent of brain volume. In most cases, this does not noticeably affect cognitive function. Cognitive testing shows older people perform just as well, and in some cases better, than young people. Abnormal cerebral atrophy, however, can have a noticeable influence on comprehension and memory. Cerebral atrophy at an accelerated rate, especially at a younger age, is generally a sign of a serious disorder.
Cerebral atrophy is most associated with age-related mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, any condition that affects brain tissue can cause cerebral atrophy:
- Tissue-destroying diseases
Cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy can all contribute to brain shrinkage.
- Poor Nutrition
Dietary disorders such as malnutrition, anorexia, bulimia, or even diabetes can result in cerebral atrophy. Alcohol use is another major cause of cerebral atrophy, and one study has shown as few as two drinks a day may increase the risk of cerebral atrophy.
- Mental illness
Interestingly, psychological disorders such as depression, PTSD and bipolar disorder can cause physical changes in the brain, including brain tissue atrophy.
Cerebral atrophy can be reversible in some cases, depending on the underlying cause.
In cases of alcoholism and malnutrition, the brain is usually capable of regrowth under more healthy conditions. Similarly, those suffering from mental disorders often recover, at least partly, from brain atrophy when they begin to recover from their psychological condition. In cases where the underlying cause cannot be reversed- such as multiple sclerosis- brain atrophy can only mitigated. A healthy diet high in omega-3s, a regimented exercise program, and a high-level of social interaction are all helpful in reducing cerebral atrophy.
If you have cerebral atrophy, you may be eligible for Long Term Disability (LTD) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
The Social Security Administration does not specifically recognize cerebral atrophy in its listing of impairments. However, many of the underlying causes of cerebral atrophy are listed. Some of those conditions, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s, are even eligible for compassionate allowances- a program that pays applicants benefits before their application is processed. Additionally, depending on what part of the brain is affected, cerebral atrophy can be cause of Aphasia. Aphasia is a severe impairment of the language center of the brain which can result in an inability to speak, read or write. Loss of ability to speak does qualify for benefits under the bluebook. Even if an applicant’s brain tissue atrophy is not the cause or effect of a listed condition, they may still qualify for benefits under medical equivalence.
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.
The disability attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed have experience helping Texans claim Social Security and Long Term Disability benefits. Our Austin offices service central Texas including Travis county, Bexar county, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston. If you live in central Texas and are unable to work due to an injury or illness, contact our attorneys for a free consultation.
Most initial Social Security Disability claims are denied. Long Term Disability Insurance also denies most claims upfront. If you have been denied benefits, having an attorney to help appeal your case can help you win the support you need. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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