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SPINAL CORD INJURY & SSD BENEFITS

WHAT IS A SPINAL CORD INJURY?

A spinal cord injury refers to damage to the spinal cord. Your spinal cord is a long tube of nerve tissue that runs from the brain down through the center of your back. The spinal cord contains nerve fibers that transmit messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Therefore, when it is damaged, the damage causes a loss of function or sensation to occur.

There are many ways that a spinal cord injury can happen. For example, traumatic injuries, such as falls or sports accidents can damage the spinal cord. Spinal cord injury can also occur from infections, tumors or diseases.

The damage caused to the body by a spinal cord injury can cause a complete or partial paralysis. For example, the spinal cord can be so damaged that it results in a total loss of sensation and motor function below the level of the injury. This means that there is no sensation or voluntary movement in certain parts of the body. Some spinal cord injuries cause partial damage to the body. This means that there is still some level of movement or sensation in the parts of the body below the level of the injury.

Diagnosis form with Spinal cord injury.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SPINAL CORD INJURY

Spinal cord injuries can have a significant impact on your life. If you have a spinal cord injury and you are unable to work or are expected to be unable to work for more than 12 months, then you can file for SSD benefits. Some common effects of a spinal cord injury may include:

PARALYSIS: Depending on the location of the injury, a spinal cord injury may cause paralysis in some or all of the body.

LOSS OF SENSATION: A spinal cord injury can cause a loss of sensation near the affected area. This means that you may not feel touch, temperature, or pain in that area.

CHRONIC PAIN: Some people with a spinal cord injury may experience chronic pain. Doctors will give you medication and treatment to manage the pain.

PROBLEMS WITH BOWEL AND BLADDER FUNCTION: A spinal cord injury may cause problems with bowel and bladder control. Therefore, you may need to use a catheter to urinate and help with bowel care.

TROUBLE BREATHING: Depending on the location of the injury, a spinal cord injury may cause problems breathing. Some people, after spinal cord damage, will need a ventilator in order to breathe.

SPINAL CORD INJURY CAUSED BY INFECTION OR DISEASE

Spinal cord injury can be caused by infections or diseases. Unlike spinal cord injuries that are the result of accidents, these spinal cord injuries are often related to various medical conditions. Here are some examples:

  1. Transverse Myelitis:
    • This is an inflammation of the spinal cord that can be caused by infections, immune system disorders, or other unknown factors. It often leads to damage across the width of the spinal cord, which affects sensory and motor function.
  2. Spinal Cord Abscess:
    • An abscess is a collection of pus that can form in the spinal cord. Infections from bacteria can lead to the development of an abscess. This causes compression and damage to the spinal cord.
  3. Spinal Epidural Abscess:
    • Similar to a spinal cord abscess, a spinal abscess is an infection that occurs in the epidural space around the spinal cord. It can also lead to damage of the spinal cord.
  4. Meningitis and Encephalitis:
    • Infections affecting the meninges (the protective layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord) can lead to meningitis. Likewise, infections of the brain tissue itself can lead to encephalitis. In some cases, these infections can affect the spinal cord.
  5. HIV-Related Myelopathy:
    • Some individuals with advanced HIV infection may develop a condition known as HIV-related myelopathy. This affects the spinal cord and leads to progressive weakness and nerve symptoms.
  6. Tuberculosis of the Spine (Pott’s Disease):
    • Tuberculosis can affect the spine, causing a condition known as Pott’s disease. In advanced cases, the infection can lead to damage of the spinal cord.
  7. Viral Infections:
    • Certain viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus, can inflame and injure the spinal cord.

It’s important to note that the outcomes vary widely in spinal cord injury caused by infections or disease. Treatment usually involves curing the underlying infection or disease in order to promote recovery.

TREATMENT FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY

Living with a spinal cord injury poses many challenges, but understanding the available treatments and emerging therapies can pave the way for improved quality of life. For example, treatment for a spinal cord injury requires includes:

  1. EMERGENCY CARE: Immediate medical attention is critical after a spinal cord injury. Responders to an accident will immobilize the spine. This is necessary to avoid further damage to the spinal cord and transport you to the hospital.
  2. SURGERY: Surgery may be performed to fix damage to the spine. Surgery will also remove any bone fragments and address other spinal cord issues.
  3. MEDICATION MANAGEMENT:  Medications may be given to manage pain and muscle spasms. Medications offer relief while supporting the healing process.
  4. REHABILITATION:  Physical therapy and other rehab programs are essential to help regain function and adapt to daily life. Rehabilitation aims to improve strength and independence.
  5. ASSISTIVE DEVICES: Depending on the spinal cord injury, you may need devices such as wheelchairs, braces, or other aids. Learn more about how the SSA considers these devices.
  6. ELECTRICAL STIMULATION: Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is a technique that uses electrical currents to stimulate nerves and muscles. Because the central nervous system can no longer trigger the nerves and muscles due to spinal damage, creating a way for the muscles to work can help improve muscle strength.
  7. EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENTS: Research is ongoing into experimental treatments, including stem cell therapy, gene therapy, and other medicine approaches. While these approaches are in the early stages of research, they hold hope for future spinal cord injury treatment.

HOW TO FILE FOR SSD BENEFITS FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY

You can file an application for SSD and SSI benefits in a number of different ways:

  • If you want to file an application for SSDI benefits, then you can file your claim online at Social Security’s website. Filing online has many benefits. For example, when you file online you get a receipt for your application. This allows you more time to finish the application and to do so at your own pace.
  • If you file for Supplemental Security Income, then you can start your application online. However, the SSA will contact you to finish your application in person at your local Social Security office.
  • You can also apply for SSDI, SSI, or both, over the phone at 800-722-1213 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • You can always apply in person at your local Social Security field office. If you go this route, then be prepared to wait in line.

Consider calling an attorney with years of legal experience to help you file your SSD application. Our law firm can help you gather medical evidence and communicate with the SSA on your behalf. Additionally, we can also prepare you for your Social Security hearing.

TWO FORMS OF SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

If you have a spinal disorder, then there are two benefits for which you can file an application: Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. You can file an application online at the Social Security’s website. Below, you can find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):  

SSDI benefits are for those who have worked and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, then you can only file for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI):  

SSI is a needs based benefit. It is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income and assets. If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, for example, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. You cannot be paid SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.

LISTING 11.08 FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY AND OTHER DISORDER

SSA listing 11.08 is the listing the SSA applies following a spinal cord injury. In order to meet the listing you must have every element on the list and medical records that prove each element.

11.08 Spinal cord disorders with A, B, or C:

A. Complete loss of function, lasting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder.

OR

B. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities lasting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder.

OR

C. Marked limitation in physical function and in one of the following areas of mental function, both lasting for 3 consecutive months after the disorder:

  1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
  2. Interacting with others; or
  3. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
  4. dapting or managing oneself.

When the SSA evaluates your spinal cord disorder, they will need evidence from at least 3 months after your symptoms began in order to determine your motor function. Therefore, if the spinal cord disorder is severe, the medical evidence  may be sufficient to allow your claim within 3 months after the spinal cord injury. If the medical evidence demonstrates total cord transection causing a loss of motor and sensory functions below the level of injury, then the SSA will not wait 3 months but will make a decision immediately.

RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY (RFC) AND SPINAL CORD INJURY

If your spinal cord injury does not meet listing 11.08, then you can still win benefits if your it impairs your residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is the medical assessment of what you can physically do in a work setting, after taking into account your spinal cord injury symptoms.

Your RFC includes both your physical and mental limits. In terms of physical limits, the SSA tries to define your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during the course of an 8 hour workday. Likewise, the SSA will include your ability to carry, pull, and push. Find out more about how the SSA defines work.

In order to figure out your physical RFC, the SSA will review your medical records. They will take into account what your doctor states in your medical records about your ability to work. Additionally, the SSA has their own doctors review your medical records, but they never meet or examine you.

These doctors are paid by the government and work for DDS, the state agency who makes decisions in all Social Security cases. The SSA will take the medical opinion of these doctors into account too. Likewise, if they need more information, they may send you to a medical exam. Learn more here about what to expect at SSA’s doctor exam.

The SSA will also consider descriptions of your symptoms from your family and friends. Find out more information about what types of evidence the SSA must consider. For example, your family member could write a statement about your spinal cord injury and how it prevents you from doing your daily activities. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work.

MEDICAL EVIDENCE WINS BENEFITS IN SPINAL CORD INJURY CASES

Medical evidence is the most important thing you need to prove that you should be paid SSD benefits. If you need a medical opinion in your case, then make an appointment with your doctor. Ask your doctor to provide their medical opinion to the SSA about your ability to work. Your doctor can also order tests, like an MRI or CT scan, that prove your spinal cord injury. This evidence wins your case.

However, what happens if you don’t have a treating doctor? Don’t worry. If you can’t afford to see a doctor, then you still have options.

For example, you could get treatment from a counselor, nurse, or a doctor at the following places. They can give you medication. If you have depression following a spinal cord injury, then you can get private therapy or group therapy. Finally, we have a list of free and low cost health clinics on our website. Choose your state and call the free clinic for medical help:

Additionally, it is possible for the SSA to send you to an exam with one of their doctors. If the SSA sends you to a doctor exam, make sure that you bring the things that you use to help you walk or sit. For example, bring your cane or walker to the exam. Also, if you use a brace for your back or other part of your body, then wear it. Finally, remember that at the exam you could be under SSA investigation.

HIRE US FOR OUR YEARS OF SSD LEGAL EXPERIENCE

The SSA benefits application and appeal process can be long and frustrating. It certainly won’t be easier to deal with the SSA if you have a spinal cord injury. Hire our SSD law firm to give you legal advice and help you through the application process. In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and past due benefits for our clients.

If you want to win benefits, then hire an attorney with the legal experience to win your case. You can hire us for no money down. This means we do not charge you any money up front to help you or for you to become our client. Then, you only pay us an attorney fee when you win benefits. If you don’t win, then you don’t pay an attorney fee. Learn more about how attorney fees work in this process. For help, contact us.

If you want to learn more about our lawyers and staff, then read our About Us page. For example, you can learn about Andria Summers, who has 21 experience working at our law firm. She can also help you with your Medicare advantage plan. She has also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.

IS IT WORTH THE ATTORNEY FEE TO HIRE AN SSD LAWYER?

Hiring an attorney with SSD legal experience is worth it. We can speed up the process if you have an injury that clearly demonstrates you cannot work, like a spinal cord injury. Also, when you have a law firm with experience handling your Social Security case, the SSA makes sure that they follow their own procedures.

Additionally, when you have an attorney with legal experience, they will have access to Social Security’s decisions throughout the five step SSA review process. Your lawyer can also submit medical evidence that may be missing from your case.

There is evidence that hiring an attorney with the proper experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%. It is also smart to hire an attorney to help you at your hearing. After all, you are the star witness at your hearing. If you hire an attorney with experience, they can prepare you to be a good witness at your hearing. Learn more about how to prepare for your SSD hearing.

WE CAN WIN YOUR BENEFITS FOR SPINAL CORD INJURY

You want the best SSD attorney near your to help you win your SSD benefits after a spinal cord injury. Contact Cannon Disability Law today to see if you qualify for SSD or Supplemental Security Income benefits. We can tell you over the phone about the merits of your case. Call us and tell us why you can’t work. We also need to know who your doctors are and if you have already filed an application for benefits.

We have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI claims for our clients. Our attorneys practice in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and California. Our main office is in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, we can represent you where you live. Likewise, we practice in Nevada and Idaho on a routine basis. Learn more about Nevada SSD benefits. Also, we have attorneys that are members of the bar in those states.

Additionally, Dianna Cannon is a member of the bar in California, Nevada, Utah and Washington state. Don’t wait to contact our law firm today, because your monthly benefit doesn’t start until you file your application for benefits. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you lose money. Call now and start the process to win SSDI and SSI benefits for your spinal cord injury.

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