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Los Angeles California Social Security Disability Insurance Law Blog

What are your rights when you return to work after a TBI?

As the victim of a traumatic brain injury in California, you have spent significant time in rehabilitation to help you relearn important skills. You are learning to cope with limitations you may not have experienced before and are doing your best to thrive despite the changes that have occurred. Recently, you have decided to return to work. This time can be both exciting and terrifying at the once. However, when you understand what your rights are, you can be aware of the treatment you should receive to help you be successful in your career. 

According to brainline.org, if you experience significant challenges with day-to-day functions in relation to your TBI, returning to work could be significantly more difficult than someone who has suffered a less-severe TBI. Fortunately, with the right resources at your disposal, you can excel even if you are still recovering. Some of the resources you should have access to include the following:

  • A supportive work environment where you feel safe and appreciated.
  • Access to training to help you strengthen your cognitive function and skills. 
  • Technology that has been designed to supplement areas where you may need additional assistance. 
  • On-the-job training to help you learn about your responsibilities and how to effectively complete them.
  • Access to counselors who can provide support and encouragement as you return to work. 

The challenge of being approved for Social Security benefits

When you have a condition that disables you, it may make it impossible for you to work. This puts you in a difficult position because you need to have an income. One of the options that you have is to file for benefits from Social Security.

Even though these benefits are here to help you, it isn't easy to get approved. There is a complex process before you can get the benefits, so don't count on this as a quick way to have an income.

Amputees do not automatically qualify for SSD benefits

At the Disability Rights Law Center in California, we often help injured people review their cases and file for Social Security disability benefits. If you have recently suffered an amputation, you may have visited the SSA website in hopes of identifying whether your situation qualifies for disability benefits. 

Unlike eligibility for workers' compensation, it does not matter if your injury happened at work or somewhere else. The primary consideration is whether it keeps you from maintaining employment that can support you and anyone who depends on you. The SSA does have specific criteria for amputees to meet before they can receive benefits. You can find this information under the category, 1.00 Musculoskeletal System. 

Social Security disability for mental health conditions

Physical disabilities aren't the only types that can qualify a person for Social Security disability benefits. It is also possible for people who have mental health disorders to qualify in some cases. It might prove to be a bit more difficult to accurately show how the condition impacts you since there aren't always outward signs of the disability like what you might have with a physical one.

Having documented visits with a mental health professional and any other doctors who care for you can go a long way in these cases. Here are some points to remember about mental health conditions and Social Security disability:

What you should know about schizophrenia and disability benefits

Often, a person in California who has a mental health disorder may not know it until well into adulthood. When symptoms begin, they may mimic other health issues, and someone may find it gradually more and more difficult to continue to function normally at work. 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, schizophrenia can be one such disorder. Men are more likely to begin to notice symptoms earlier - as early as their late teen years. However, women may not receive a diagnosis until their late 20s or their early 30s. While these are the more common ages, the typical age range for the onset of symptoms and diagnosis is anywhere between 12 and 40.

Is the Social Security Administration short on staff?

Many California residents suffering from disabling conditions are finding it difficult to get approved for the financial benefits they deserve from the Social Security Administration. The reason? The Social Security Administration appears to be short on staff.

The waiting period when it comes to SSA claims for benefits is frustrating and exasperating. Even worse, if you're trying to file for benefits on your own -- without knowing what to expect and what is "normal" -- can make the process especially stressful and upsetting.

Filing for Social Security Disability after a divorce

In many of our blog posts, we have discussed some of the different reasons why people need to file for Social Security Disability and some of the advantages of receiving benefits. For example, people may find that their stress levels drop considerably and they have a sense of hope with respect to their future, financially and otherwise. However, there are times when people may find themselves in an especially challenging position, such as someone who is applying for Social Security Disability following a recent divorce.

In some instances, these issues are intertwined with each other. For example, someone may have recently sustained an injury at work that left them unable to continue their job. Simultaneously, their marriage may have come to an end, largely due to the consequences of their injury. A disability can change life in many ways and, unfortunately, can result in the termination of relationships with close friends and spouses. Not only can a divorce under these circumstances be particularly tough from a financial point of view, but the emotional toll can be overwhelming and people going through this may feel as if they have lost everything.

Understanding degenerative disc disease

As you have gotten older, new aches and pains in your back have developed that make it hard for you to live your life in California as you used to. Maybe the pain is constant, or maybe it comes and goes, or affects you only during certain activities, such as standing up and sitting down. Regardless, it is seriously affecting how you function. We at the Disability Rights Law Center often advise people whose lives are changed because of back pain from degenerative disc disease.

According to WebMD, an accident or injury in the past may have caused tears in the outer wall of one or more of your spinal discs, or the damage to the discs could be from wear over time, or from the drying effect age naturally has on discs. Any of these changes damages the shock-absorbing function of the spinal discs, which are located between the vertebrae. You could sustain damage to the bones, or nerve damage, or both, as a result of degenerating discs.

Gathering evidence of a mental illness for the SSA

Every person in California who has a mental illness may share common symptoms with others who are diagnosed with the same condition, but even so, each experience is unique. One factor that is common for many is the difficulty working and the challenges of getting Social Security benefits.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the issues people suffering from mental illnesses face is that their applications are not likely to be reviewed by people who have mental health credentials. In fact, the Social Security Administration reviewers merely go over the evidence provided by applicants and determine if they meet criteria set by the SSA. These criteria are not the same as those mental health providers use to diagnose a mental illness. This makes it extremely important to review what evidence the SSA requires rather than assuming that a professional diagnosis will be enough.

Spinal cord injury impacts can change every aspect of your life

A spinal cord injury at work can be devastating because it impacts your family life, as well as your work life. Depending on what type of job you have, you might not be able to continue working after the accident. This is tragic because it means that you will lose your source of support and all your previous hard work is for naught since you can't continue your career.

There are many different things about a spinal cord injury that can lead to life impacts. Understanding these can give you a sense of the limitations and abilities you may face when it comes to work and, possibly, the rest of your life.

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