STROKE DISABILITY BENEFITS
Stroke disability benefits are available, if you still are suffering severe stroke symptoms and you cannot work. You must be unable to work for over 12 months in order to win Social Security benefits. You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The two benefits are have different qualifications. For SSDI benefits, you must have many years of work. SSI benefits, on the other hand, are for people who have very little work and who have very few assets.
Cannon Disability Law can help you apply for disability benefits. We usually help you file an application online at the Social Security website. Helping our clients file their application and appealing any SSA denial for them is what we do. We will do that for you too.
WHAT IS A STROKE?
When the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted, that prevents brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients, and a stroke occurs. Brain cells begin to die in only minutes. A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt medical treatment is crucial. Quick medical treatment can reduce brain damage and other complications. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death. However, fewer Americans die of stroke now than in the past.
THERE ARE THREE MAIN TYPES OF STROKES:
- Ischemic stroke: This is the most common type of stroke, making up 87% of all cases. This occurs when a blood clot prevents blood and oxygen from reaching an area of the brain. Fatty plaque deposits within your arteries can also cause clots that result in ischemia.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: This occurs when a blood vessel ruptures. These are usually the result of aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). The risk of death related to each bleed is 10% to 15%. Also, the chance of permanent brain damage is 20% to 30%. Each time blood leaks into the brain it damages the normal brain tissue.
- Transient ischemic attack (a warning or “mini-stroke”): These strokes are known as “TIA’s.” A “ministroke” occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is inadequate for a brief period of time. Normal blood flow resumes after a short time and the symptoms resolve without treatment.
Having a stroke can be fatal. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the age-adjusted mortality rate for 2017 was 37.6 in every 100,000 stroke diagnoses.
TESTING FOR A STROKE
There are a number of tests that the doctor can do to see if you are experiencing a stroke. Here is a list of most of them. Typically, you do not have all of these tests at the hospital. However, some of them will be done to see if you have suffered a stroke.
- A physical exam from you doctor. Your doctor will listen to your heart and check your blood pressure. He or she will also give you a neurological exam to see how a potential stroke is affecting your nervous system.
- Blood tests. At the hospital, you may be given blood tests. Blood tests will check to see how fast your blood will clot, whether your blood sugar is too high or too low, and whether you have an infection.
TESTING DONE AT THE HOSPITAL
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create an image of your brain. A CT scan can show bleeding in the brain, an ischemic stroke, or if you have a brain tumor or other conditions.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves and magnets to create a picture of your brain. An MRI can detect brain tissue damage from an ischemic stroke. It can also detect brain hemorrhages.
- Carotid ultrasound. In this test, sound waves create detailed images of the inside of the carotid arteries in your neck. This test shows buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) and blood flow in your carotid arteries.
- Cerebral angiogram. This test is not very common. However, if it is done, then your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a small incision, usually in your groin, and guides it through your major arteries and into your carotid or vertebral artery. Then your doctor injects a dye into your blood vessels to make them visible under X-ray imaging. The angiogram then gives a view of the arteries in your brain and neck to the doctor.
- Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create images of your heart. This test can find a source of clots in your heart. It can show clots that may have traveled from your heart to your brain and caused your stroke.
TREATMENT FOR ISCHEMIC STROKE
To treat an ischemic stroke, doctors must quickly restore blood flow to your brain. This may be done with:
- Emergency IV medication. Drugs that can break up a clot have to be given within 4.5 hours from when your stroke symptoms first start. The sooner these drugs are given, the better. Quick treatment improves your chance of survival and also reduces complications. An IV injection of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) — also called Activase — is the standard treatment for ischemic stroke. An injection of this is given through a vein in the arm. This drug restores blood flow by dissolving the blood clot causing your stroke. By quickly removing the cause of the stroke, it may help people recover more fully from a stroke.
- Emergency endovascular procedures. Doctors can treat ischemic strokes directly inside the blocked blood vessel. However, these procedures must be performed as soon as possible:
- Medications delivered to the brain. Doctors insert a catheter through an artery in your groin and thread it to your brain. This delivers the Activase directly to where the stroke is happening.
- Removing the clot with a stent retriever. Doctors can use a stent retriever to directly remove the clot from the blocked blood vessel in your brain. This procedure is helpful for people with large clots that can’t be completely dissolved with drugs.
TREATMENT FOR HEMORRHAGIC STROKE
Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in your brain. This treatment is emergency treatment and includes:
- Emergency measures. If you are taking blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots, you may be given drugs or transfusions of blood to counteract the blood thinner. You may also be given drugs to lower the intracranial pressure in your brain. Likewise, you may be given drugs to lower your blood pressure, prevent seizures and to prevent blood vessel spasms.
- Surgery. If you have a large area of bleeding, your doctor may perform surgery to remove the blood and relieve pressure on your brain. Surgery may also be used to repair blood vessel problems associated with hemorrhagic strokes. Likewise, a surgeon may place a small clamp at the base of the aneurysm to stop blood flow to it. The clamp keeps the aneurysm from bursting. Or, it can keep the aneurysm bleeding again.
OTHER PROCEDURES BESIDES SURGERY
- Coiling (endovascular embolization). You surgeon inserts a catheter into an artery in your groin and guides the catheter your brain. Then, your surgeon places tiny detachable coils into the aneurysm to fill it. This blocks blood flow into the aneurysm and causes blood clots which prevent bleeding.
- Surgical arteriovenous malformation (AVM) removal. Surgeons may remove a small AVM if it is in an accessible area of your brain. This eliminates the risk of rupture and lowers the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. However, it’s not always possible to remove an AVM if it is deep within the brain.
STROKE RECOVERY AND REHABILITATION
After emergency treatment, your doctor will monitor you for at least a day. After that, stroke care focuses on helping you recover as much function as possible. Also, the doctors focus on returning you too independent living. However, you ability to be independent depends on the area of the brain damage from the stroke.
If your stroke was on the right side of your brain, it will affect the movement and feeling on the left side of your body. For example, you may have seen people with a stroke who can no longer use their left arm. If your stroke was on the left side of your brain, it will affect the movement and sensation on the right side of your body. Additionally, brain damage from a stroke on the left side of your brain may cause speech and language disorders.
REHABILITATION AND POSSIBLE DISABILITY AFTER A STROKE
Most stroke survivors go to a rehabilitation program. Your doctor will recommend a therapy program that is good for you. The doctor will consider your overall health and your degree of disability from the stroke. Your doctor will take into consideration your lifestyle and the availability of family members or other caregivers. If you are active and love to golf, run, or ski, you may need extensive rehabilitation. If you lead a more sedentary life, you may not require as much rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation might begin before you leave the hospital. After leaving the hospital, you might continue your program in a rehabilitation unit. Or, a skilled nursing facility. Likewise, there will probably be exercises for you to do as an outpatient and at home.
While every person’s stroke recovery is different. Your rehabilitation and treatment may include:
- Doctor trained in brain conditions (neurologist)
- Rehabilitation doctor (physiatrist)
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Recreational therapist
- Speech pathologist
- Social worker or case manager
HOW TO PREVENT A STROKE AND DISABILITY
You cannot always prevent a stroke. Obviously, sometimes a stroke just happens despite living a healthy lifestyle. However, the best way to try to prevent a stroke from happening is to address the underlying causes. People do this by making lifestyle choices, such as:
- eating a healthy diet
- maintaining a healthy weight for your height
- exercising regularly
- not smoking tobacco
- avoiding alcohol or drinking moderately
- avoiding abuse of substances, like illegal or even prescription drugs
Also, eating a nutritious diet can help you avoid a stroke. This means eating:
- whole grains
A nutritious diet will limit the amount of red meant and processed food. You should also avoid saturated fats. The reason for this is to avoid having high cholesterol. You want to avoid cholesterol intake so that you are less likely to get a blockage. Also, it is wise to have moderate salt intake, as this supports healthy blood pressure. You can also do other things to help reduce the risk of stroke include:
- controlling your blood pressure levels
- managing diabetes
- getting treatment if you have heart disease
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS AND CAUSES OF A STROKE AND DISABILITY?
There is no set list of risk factors that proves your stroke will result in being unable to work. Each type of stroke has a different set of potential causes. Likewise, a stroke has different long-term symptoms depending on the person who has the stroke. However, a stroke is more likely to cause disability if you have the following factors:
- overweight or have morbid obesity
- 55 years of age or older
- there is a personal or family history of stroke
- history of high blood pressure
- uncontrolled diabetes
- high cholesterol
- heart disease, carotid artery disease, or another vascular disease
- a sedentary lifestyle
- drinking alcohol excessively
- being a smoker
- using illicit drugs
According to National Center for Biotechnology information, a 2016 study shows that African American people have a significantly higher risk of experiencing a first-time stroke. Additionally, they are also about 60% more likely to experience another stroke within 2 years. African Americans in the study had higher levels of prior stroke, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and smoking. However, they had a lower level of coronary heart disease. Additionally, African Americans had a higher risk of recurrent stroke. If you are African American, do what you can to follow the healthy guidelines, so that you can avoid a stroke.
SYMPTOMS THAT YOU ARE HAVING A STROKE
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over a third of people who experience a TIA, or mini-stroke, have a major stroke within a year. This occurs if they do not receive any treatment. Therefore, around 10–15% of people will have a major stroke within 3 months of experiencing a TIA. It is crucial, if you have a mini-stroke, to seek treatment. Mini-strokes are have symptoms that are less noticeable than a stroke. But, if you believe you may have suffered a mini-stroke, talk to you doctor right away.
The symptoms of a stroke or a mini-stroke can occur without any warning. Some of the main symptoms include:
- confusion, including difficulty speaking and understanding speech
- a headache, possibly with nausea and vomiting
- numbness or an inability to move parts of your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body
- vision problems in one or both eyes
- trouble walking, dizziness and a lack of coordination in the arms and legs
Having a stroke can lead to long-term health conditions. Some people may experience:
- bladder or bowel control problems
- paralysis or weakness on one or both sides of the body
- difficulty controlling or expressing their emotions
THE “FAST” ACRONYM – IT WILL HELP YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE HAVING A STROKE
Learning the acronym “FAST” is a good way to remember the symptoms of stroke. This can help a person seek prompt treatment. FAST stands for:
- Face drooping: Does one side of your face droop if you try to smile?
- Arm weakness: Does one arm drift downward when you try to lift both arms?
- Speech difficulty: Is your speech slurred when you try to talk?
- Time to act: If these symptoms occur, contact emergency services as fast as possible.
The outcome depends on how quickly you receive diagnosis and treatment. Prompt medical attention also means you will be less likely to experience permanent brain damage or death. Depending on the speed of stroke treatment, a person can experience temporary or permanent symptoms after a stroke.
STROKE DISABILITY BENEFITS UNDER SSA’S LISTING 11.04
The Social Security Administration has a list of medical conditions that win benefits. Stroke is on their list. The SSA calls it vascular insult to the brain. The only time they will pay disability benefits for a stroke is when the symptoms of your stroke are severe and will last longer than 12 months. For example, if you have a stroke, then you would meet listing 11.04(A) if you are not able to communicate for at least three months after the stroke. The elements of the listing are found below:
DISABILITY BENEFITS UNDER STROKE LISTING
11.04 Vascular insult to the brain, characterized by A, B, or C:
A. Sensory or motor aphasia resulting in ineffective speech or communication persisting for at least 3 consecutive months after the insult.
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, persisting for at least 3 consecutive months after the insult.
C. Marked limitation in physical functioning and in one of the following areas of mental functioning, both persisting for at least 3 consecutive months after the insult:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
- Interacting with others; or
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
- Adapting or managing oneself.
If you meet the above criteria, have your doctor write a statement that you are not able to work. The statements from your doctor should also include a discussion of your stroke symptoms and how they impact your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift. Your ability to talk may also be on that list. Finally, if you have memory or concentration problems, have your doctor include that as well. If you stroke results in traumatic brain injury, read here.
RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY AFTER A STROKE
If you do not have a doctor who can submit medical information, you may be sent to a Consultative Examination by the SSA. Find out more about Consultative Examinations here. It is important to have your doctor discuss your limits after a stroke to help you win benefits if you do not meet listing 11.04.
If you do not meet or equal listing 11.04, you can still be found disabled using your residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC is the medical assessment of what you can physically and mentally do in a work setting. It is the definition of your functional limitations after taking into account all of your symptoms after your pulmonary embolism.
Your RFC includes both your physical and mental symptoms. In terms of physical limits, the SSA will define your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift, during 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 here.
In order to figure out your physical RFC, the SSA will examine your medical records. They will take into account the limitations your doctor describes in your medical records. Also, the SSA will review any statements from the SSA’s consultative examiners.
The SSA will also consider descriptions about your limits from your family, neighbors and friends. For example, your family and friends could write statements about the affects of your mental and physical symptoms on how you act with others. Find out more here about RFC and how it combines with age to eliminate work. Also, find out more about SSA’s Medical Vocational Guidelines here. If you pulmonary embolism limits your RFC, hire an attorney to document those facts for the SSA.
CANNON DISABILITY LAW CAN HELP YOU WIN DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR A STROKE
At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for benefits. Also, we can help you appeal a denial from the SSA. Likewise, we can represent you in court. If necessary, we can also appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Additionally, we can file an appeal in Federal Court. We can represent you not matter where you live. For example, we have clients in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, and California.
Also, we bring over 60 years of legal experience to your case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been representing people with disabilities for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of litigation experience. We have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI hearings. You can trust that we will do everything we can to win your SSD and SSI benefits. Learn more on our About Us page.
IF YOU HAVE HAD A STROKE, HIRE CANNON DISABILITY WITH NO UPFRONT MONEY
We will use our skills to help you through the disability process. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make it easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. There is no obligation to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. We will answer. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.
It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win, you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit. Also, the fee is capped at $7200. You never pay more than the cap. And, 25% is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay the lesser amount between the two and only if we win your benefits.
If there are costs in your case, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Usually the only cost is to pay for medical records. You owe costs whether we win or lose your case. Again, attorney fees are paid from your back benefit.
To hire most lawyers, you have to pay a fee upfront. However, you can’t do that because you don’t have a job. We understand that. Which is why you only pay an attorney fee to us if we win your SSD and SSI case. If you need stroke disability benefits, contact us today.