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I Have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits?


A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the head sustains significant outside force, resulting in neurological dysfunction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), slip and falls are the leading cause of TBI. Other causes of TBI include being struck by or against something and motor vehicle accidents.

The effects of a TBI can fade after a few days or last an entire lifetime. Because of this, many individuals with TBIs apply for Social Security disability benefits every year.

You can get approved for Social Security disability benefits with a TBI. However, it’s a good idea to take a look at what Social Security has to say about TBIs to see if you may be a good candidate for benefits.

Meeting Social Security’s Criteria


When you hear the term “traumatic brain injury,” you may think of a severe injury that greatly affects a person’s ability to live a normal life. While that may be the case, TBIs actually exist on a spectrum of severity. A mild concussion, for example, is technically a TBI.

Because of this broad definition, Social Security has developed certain criteria that those with TBIs must meet in order to qualify for benefits. These criteria, included in Social Security’s listing of impairments, help narrow the definition and make sure that only those who are unable to work can qualify for disability.

The good news is that “traumatic brain injury” is word-for-word listed in the listing of impairments. While you can qualify for benefits even if your specific condition isn’t in the listing of impairments, it’s helpful if your condition is already included. Including a condition in the listing of impairments means that Social Security already knows how severe the condition can be and has a standard method for evaluating cases of the condition.

In general, to qualify for disability benefits with a TBI, your TBI must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Affect motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation lasting at least three consecutive months after the injury
  • Result in marked limitation in physical functioning and at least one area of mental functioning, lasting at least three consecutive months after the injury

For most other disabilities, you must be able to show Social Security that your disability has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. Note that, in both of the criteria above, you only have to prove that the effects of your TBI have lasted three months, not 12.

For more specific information on how Social Security evaluates TBIs, click here to read the traumatic brain injury section in the listing of impairments.

Other Types of Neurological Conditions


TBIs are not the only type of neurological injury that Social Security considers severe enough to prevent you from working. Other neurological conditions in the listing of impairments include, but are not limited to:

  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Benign brain tumors
  • Coma or persistent vegetative state

Social Security considers the entirety of your health and well-being when determining whether or not you qualify for benefits. That means that, if you suffer from other conditions in addition to your TBI, Social Security will evaluate all of your conditions together.

Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you suffer from a TBI and are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits, Hensley Legal Group is here to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your disability claim.