Info and article provided by Deanna Power, Community Outreach Manager, Social Security Disability Help
Paralysis and Social Security Disability Benefits
Every year thousands of Americans experience a spinal cord injury,
and over half of them will suffer partial paraplegia or quadriplegia as a result.
It’s a major blow that will likely affect your ability to work.
The good news is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits
available for those who have been left paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury.
Receiving this monthly support income will go a long way toward easing
your financial worries during this very difficult adjustment period.
What Forms of Disability Benefits Are Available?
The SSA has two forms of disability benefits available for people who require
financial help after a debilitating injury, such as paralysis.
The eligibility requirements are the same for both programs, but each has its own technical criteria.
SSDI is available for people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes.
So long as you have worked any five of the past ten years,
(less if you’re under age 40), you will likely qualify for SSDI benefits.
SSI is for people who have not yet paid enough into Social Security
or who have little-to-no income, such as children and the elderly.
Because it is needs based, you will not qualify if you have saved income.
Additionally, if you have a spouse who earns a living wage, you will also not qualify.
Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Paralysis
To be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits, the condition that caused your paralysis
needs to meet the medical criteria in the Blue Book, the SSA’s guide of disabling
conditions and their qualifying criteria. If your paralysis was caused due to
spinal cord trauma, you would be eligible under Section 1.04 – Disorders of the spine.
To be found eligible for benefits under this listing, your application and medical records must confirm the following:
• You experienced a spinal trauma that affected the spinal cord nerves
• The damage resulted in compression of the nerve roots
• You are experiencing pain and loss of muscle control, motion, reflexes, and sensation
Because paralysis usually affects your ability to walk, most people with paralysis
will qualify for disability benefits under the Blue Book. If you are reliant on a wheelchair,
you will almost always qualify. Only in very rare circumstances does someone who is paralyzed
and bound to a wheelchair not medically qualify.
Medical Records Needed and Starting your Application
When applying for disability benefits, you will have to complete and submit a comprehensive application form.
Some medical records that you should include in your application are, but are not limited to:
‣ A physician’s report explaining your diagnosis, extent of paralysis, and chance of improvement
‣ MRIs and/or X-Rays taken of your spine at the time of injury and present
‣ Any records of physical therapies you’ve undergone to improve your condition
SSDI applicants will be able to apply for benefits entirely online on the SSA’s website.
If you are applying for SSI, you will need to schedule an appointment to visit your local SSA office.
There are 18 SSA field offices in Arizona.
You schedule your application to apply by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
Once you start to receive the financial assistance you need, you can focus on rebuilding your life.
This article was provided by the staff of Social Security Disability Help.
If you need any help with your claim, feel free to contact us at email@example.com