Is Paralysis automatically disabling?
Paralysis is the loss of voluntary muscular capability due to the deterioration of motor function in a muscle group. The causes vary, but most often they result from a disease, a serious injury or a change in the muscular tissue.
Paralysis can be local, affecting on specific muscle group, or it can affect an entire region of the body. If you suffer from paralysis of your lower limbs this is called paraplegia. If all four of your limbs are immobile this is referred to as quadriplegia. You may also suffer paralysis on one side of your body which is referred to as hemiplegia.
Regardless of the type of paralysis you experience if it is severe it is likely to cause a loss of bodily function and your ability to maintain full-time employment.
Symptoms of Paralysis
Paralysis can cause lack of movement either bilaterally or unilaterally. It also can occur in different sections of a claimant’s body including just the upper half or just the lower half. There are a variety of conditions which can cause paralysis including tumors, autoimmune diseases in the nervous system, botulism, poisoning, cerebral palsy, ALS, trauma to the spinal cord or neck, cobra poisoning, encephalitis, Hodgkin’s Disease, Lupus or strokes.
Winning SSDI benefits for paralysis
One of the most common causes of paralysis is spinal cord injuries. If you have a severe spinal cord injury and it is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and you are unable to perform what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls "substantial gainful activity" you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Not all claimants with paralysis will qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. Having a serious health condition may not be enough to qualify; in fact, for both SSDI and SSI there are other nonmedical requirements to be eligible. For instance, claimants who have not worked and who have not earned enough work credits to be insured will never qualify for SSDI benefits, regardless of the severity of their condition. Talk to the SSA to find out if you meet the most basic nonmedical requirements BEFORE you apply.
Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Paralysis
Because paralysis is a symptom of so many different disorders the main way a claimant will meet or exceed a listing is by determining the underlying condition which has caused the paralysis and evaluating whether that condition meets a listing.
For example, under Listing 11.00 Neurological, there are several listings for diseases which may cause paralysis: central nervous system accidents, brain tumors, cerebral palsy, spinal cord or nerve root lesions, or muscular dystrophy. These conditions may cause paralysis and may be considered disabling if they are severe enough.
Winning SSDI or SSSI through a Medical Vocational Allowance
Claimants may not have a condition which is listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments but they may still be able to win SSDI or SSI if they can prove they cannot work for at least 12 continuous months, their condition is severe, and they meet the nonmedical requirements for SSI or SSDI.
Claimants who are suffering from paralysis should be getting medical care for their condition, and although their doctor does not have to write them a "note" stating they are disabled, it is very helpful if the doctor will list in the claimant’s medical records specific work activities or activities of daily living that the claimant cannot perform due to their paralysis.
For example, do you have difficulty using your arms or hands? Can you ambulate effectively? How long can you sit or stand? Do you have other people helping you complete daily activities such as eating, bathing or dressing? Any of this information is helpful in proving that you may also have difficulty working.
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