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The symptoms of a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can prevent you from working and qualify you for disability benefits. A TBI can occur from a head injury while playing sports or it can happen in a car accident. Most people can recover from a TBI with sleep, resting during the day, avoiding electronics and stress. Even with slowing down daily activities and rest, you may not be able to recover quickly. Some individuals with TBI’s can be off work for over 2 years.

TBI brain injury for disability


If you are unable to work due to a TBI, you may qualify for disability benefits.  The SSA states there are certain examples of neuro-cognitive disorders that they evaluate under listing 12.02. For example, the SSA considers dementia of the Alzheimer type to be a major neurocognitive disorder. Other examples include vascular dementia; dementia due to a medical condition such as a metabolic disease (for example, late-onset Tay-Sachs disease), human immunodeficiency virus infection, vascular malformation, and progressive brain tumor. Other neurological diseases include Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsonian syndrome, and Huntington disease.  Traumatic brain injury can also include substance-induced cognitive disorder due to drug abuse, medications, or toxins.

The SSA uses Listing 12.02 to define the symptoms of a TBI that qualifies for disability benefits. Below is listing 12.02, which outlines the symptoms that you must document to prove disability.


12.02 Neurocognitive disorders, satisfied by A and B, or A and C:

  1. Medical documentation of a significant cognitive decline from a prior level of functioning in one or more of the cognitive areas:
    1. Complex attention;
    2. Executive function;
    3. Learning and memory;
    4. Language;
    5. Perceptual-motor; or
    6. Social cognition.


  1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (see 12.00F):
    1. Understand, remember, or apply information (see 12.00E1).
    2. Interact with others (see 12.00E2).
    3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace (see 12.00E3).
    4. Adapt or manage oneself (see 12.00E4).


  1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
    1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder (see 12.00G2b); and
    2. Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life (see 12.00G2c).

If you have these symptoms, to the level outlined in listing 12.02, you should be eligible for disability benefits. When you have all of the symptoms, because your disability meets the listing. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Utah, Nevada, or Maine, the listing is the same throughout the United States. However, you must have your treating physician document the symptoms of your TBI as they appear in listing 12.02.


A TBI or neuro-cognitive disorder must be documented by your treating physician. Typically, this means that your doctor will outline if you have had a significant decline in cognitive functioning. You may also have disturbances in memory. This could take the form of short-term memory loss, like losing your keys, phone, or being unable to remember your address.

Additionally, a TBI can impact your executive functioning. Executive functioning is higher-level cognitive processes. For example, this would be being able to regulate your attention or being able to plan for the future. Executive function is also seen in decision-making, visual-spatial functioning, language and speech, perception, insight, judgment, and insensitivity to social standards. What is not part of 12.02, are impairments such as an intellectual disorder (12.05), autism spectrum disorder (12.10), and neuro-developmental disorders (12.11).


If you have a TBI or other form of brain disorder and you can no longer work, contact Cannon Disability Law today. We can usually tell you over the phone whether you qualify to apply for benefits. At Cannon Disability, we help our client’s file their application. We also help you appeal any SSA denial. Additionally, we represent you in court before the SSA judge. Most importantly, we will represent you without charging you an attorney fee. We only charge you an attorney fee if we win your case. If we do not win, you do not owe an attorney fee. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by choosing Cannon Disability as your legal team. Give us a call today.

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