There are two types of benefits you may be eligible for if you are a brain injury survivor.
1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program that pays benefits to disabled individuals who have limited income even if they have never worked before.
2. Social Security Disability (SSDI) is an entitlement-based program that pays benefits to disabled adults who have worked in jobs covered by social security. Payments are based on work-history and payroll tax contributions.
To file your claim, use the following steps:
Step 1: File a claim IMMEDIATELY. You can file a claim at your local social security office by phone, in person or online. To find your local office, call 1-800-772-1213.
Step 2: If your claim is accepted, you will generally receive a monthly benefit. For SSI, the amount is set by the federal government. You are able to receive any back pay (past due benefits) from the date of your application.
Step 3: It is not unusual for a claim to be denied. An appeal request must be made in writing within 60 days.
The decision is made using the following five-step process:
1. Are you working? If you are working and your earnings average is over a certain amount each month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) generally will not consider you to be disabled.
2. Is your medical condition “severe?” Your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities like walking, sitting and remembering, for at least one year.
3. Is your medical condition on the list of impairments? SSA has a list that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition is not on this list, SSA looks to see if your condition is comparable.
4. Can you do the work you did before? At this step, SSA decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before.
5. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, SSA looks to see if you would be able to do some other type of work. SSA will evaluate your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any other skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, SSA may decide that you are disabled.
For more information on social security and brain injury, contact BIA-MA’s Information & Resources Department at 1-800-242-0030 or go to http://www.biama.org.