Organic Brain Dysfunction

Organic brain dysfunction (OBD) is an incapacitating symptom related to a wide assortment of medical disorders that can cause behavioral or psychological abnormalities. The brain impairment can occur due to age-related conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injuries from car accidents and concussions. Other serious medical ailments like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke and multiple sclerosis as well as liver and kidney diseases are also associated with the onset of OBD.

While some OBD sufferers experience personality or mood changes, others have memory impairment and drops in I.Q. that make it difficult to concentrate, perform daily living tasks and maintain normal social relationships. The individual can exhibit wildly fluctuating emotions that alternate between crying and uncontrolled laughter to unbridled anger and deep sadness when stressed, tired or in an unfamiliar situation. The emotional swings can also occur without any apparent reason, which further isolate and traumatize those with OBD. Although there is no cure for the condition, a supportive environment and a tailored course of therapy can help OBD sufferers adjust to life with their cognitive deficits.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a national safety net intended to help workers who become disabled before they reach retirement age. Funded by your FICA tax withholdings, the program can provide financial assistance to those with OBD whose condition prevents him or her from engaging in gainful activity. The monthly benefit may help you to remain financially independent. The stipend can be paid to the individual suffering from OBD as well as dependent family members based on SSDI rules and regulations. To qualify for SSDI, individuals must meet certain work history requirements. Younger workers can qualify for SSDI based on the work history of their parents. The agency calculates your allowable monthly benefits by determining your average earnings over your lifetime up to 10 years. Benefits may continue for as long as an individual is unable to work due to a qualifying medical disability and is younger than 65. Upon reaching retirement age, the person will receive retirement benefits. The payment amount may be reduced if you receive other government disability benefits, such as workers’ compensation.

Getting SSDI for Organic Brain Dysfunction

If you or a loved one has OBD, you should apply for SSDI. During the application process, you must document the negative impact of OBD on your life. If you cannot perform your old job, Social Security will determine whether you have the capacity to perform some other type of work. To receive SSDI, you must demonstrate that you cannot participate in a substantial gainful activity. During the application process, you will be required to document the severity of your OBD. Your medical history should include information from specialists who used neuropsychological tests like the Luria-Nebraska to measure the impact of OBD on your ability to function. If you took an I.Q. test before the onset of OBD, a loss of at least 15 points during a subsequent test could also help confirm the diagnosis. Without professional assistance, an OBD sufferer can experience worsening in their mental status. While the “Blue Book” does not specifically list OBD, it does list organic mental disorders that are psychological and behavioral abnormalities caused by dysfunctions of the brain. The totality and severity of symptoms resulting from OBD will meet the requirements listed under this category.

Getting Help from an Attorney

If you or a loved one is considering applying for SSDI or has been denied benefits, you should contact an experienced Social Security lawyer. Trying to present a compelling case for benefits is a daunting challenge, especially while caring for someone with a debilitating disease. Many applicants are overwhelmed by the process and paperwork. Social Security has specific filing requirements that can be difficult for individuals to accomplish on their own. SSDI attorneys stay abreast of these requirements and understand how to assemble a thorough application. A lawyer knowledgeable in the application process can gather the information from medical specialists and other professionals required to document and support your claim. This is especially important if you are scheduled for a review hearing. SSDI applicants are more likely to win his or her appeal when represented by an attorney with SSDI case management experience. A lawyer will also ensure that your rights are fully protected as you are guided through the application process.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.