Sunday, July 16, 2017

Qualifying for Disability Benefits After a Stroke

This article was provided by Deanna Power, Director of Outreach, in collaboration with her team at Disability Benefits Help. They are an independent resource dedicated to helping people of all ages receive the Social Security disability benefits they need. They are a previous contributor to this blog. Visit their web site at:

Their organization helps with all cases of disability, not just stroke alone, so if you have any additional questions on how to qualify after a stroke, or would like more information on disability benefits in general, feel free to reach out to their team at:
If you or someone you love has experienced a stroke, it may be possible to qualify for financial resources. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly disability benefits to people of all ages who are unable to work due to an illness or catastrophic injury. Depending on your how stroke affects your daily life, you may be eligible for payments to help replace a portion of your lost income and cover your medical expenses, physical therapy, rent or mortgage, and more.

Medically Qualifying After a Stroke

The SSA uses its medical guide known as the Blue Book to evaluate all disability applicants and deem disability benefits to those who meet the Blue Book’s qualifying criteria. A stroke can be found under Section 11.04 of the Blue Book—vascular insult to the brain. Under this listing, there are three ways to qualify. If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be approved:

1: Complications after your stroke make it impossible for you to understand or convey a message in simple spoken language. This means that you’d need to be unable to perform typical work duties, such as following single-step commands from a supervisor, or telling someone a basic need.

2: Your stroke has severely limited your ability to move at least two arms or legs, which prevents you from either:

Standing from a seated position
Balance while walking or standing
Use your arms to perform dexterous movements or lift weight

3. You have “marked” limitation* in physical functioning, and you also have difficulty in one of the following areas:

Understanding, remembering, & applying information
Interacting with others (in a workplace setting)
Concentrating and completing tasks
Managing yourself, such as speaking to colleagues in a controlled voice

*What’s the difference between “marked limitation” and listings 1 & 2? Marked limitation means you have some difficulty, but your physical limitations aren’t so severe so that you cannot stand from a seated position, or lift weight.

Timing Your Application

One important note in the Blue Book is that every symptom in criteria 1, 2, and 3 all must have been present for at least 3 months. You also need to have been seeing treatment from a doctor to try to improve your symptoms and regain speech or motor function.

This means that if you had a stroke less than three months ago, you should not apply for Social Security disability benefits. Regardless of how disabling the stroke is, you will not qualify until a full three months have passed.

Starting Your Application

Most people can apply for Social Security disability benefits online. This is a great way to apply, as you can save your application to be completed at a later time. You can also apply on behalf of a loved one who has experienced a stroke if he or she is unable to type. If you’d prefer to apply in person, you can do so at your local SSA office. There are more than 1,300 offices nationwide. To make an appointment, call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

The SSA processes most claims in five months, although some applicants could be approved quicker. Once approved, you can focus on your health and recovery.

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