In Tennessee, some stroke victims who have severe symptoms may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if they are left unable to work. People who have suffered severe strokes should apply as soon as they are able because the SSDI process can be lengthy. To be eligible for SSDI benefits, people will need to demonstrate that they have suffered at least one of the marked functional impairments that are listed in the Social Security Administration Blue Book. Applicants should be aware that even if they have suffered severe limitations, their initial applications for benefits may be denied. However, many applicants are successful when they appeal their denials.
What Is SSDI?
Social Security disability insurance is a federal insurance program that people pay for through their payroll deductions. To be eligible for SSDI, people must have earned a sufficient number of work credits and have paid into Social Security for a sufficient number of years. People who have not worked for a sufficient number of years and who have not paid in enough to Social Security are not eligible for SSDI. However, they may be eligible for SSI, which is a needs-based disability entitlement program.
Qualifying for SSDI After a Stroke
Even if people have paid in enough to Social Security through their jobs to meet the eligibility requirements for SSDI, their conditions must also meet the medical guidelines. For a medical condition to qualify for SSDI, it must be severe and expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in the person’s death. The Social Security Administration has a Blue Book with medical conditions and symptoms that are listed. The Blue Book is compared with the medical records and documentation of symptoms to determine whether or not conditions are severe enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. People who have suffered strokes must be able to demonstrate one of the following impairments.
- They must have suffered an extreme impairment in their ability to communicate or to understand simple messages
- Severe motor impairments must prevent them from standing, balancing, or using their upper extremities for at least three months after the stroke
- A combination of marked physical impairment and mental impairment exists
People who are denied benefits but who meet the guidelines should file appeals. Many applicants win their claims on appeal when they have hearings before administrative law judges.