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Are Neurological Disorders Covered by Social Security Disability?

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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are available for otherwise qualified applicants who suffer from a diagnosable, debilitating illness. While most people think of physical ailments such as paraplegia or blindness when they think of obtaining disability benefits, there is a wide range of conditions that can qualify a person for SSDI. Below, we discuss when and how neurological disorders can qualify an applicant for SSDI benefits. Call a knowledgeable Social Security Disability benefits attorney for help obtaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or SSDI benefits or responding to a Social Security denial.

Qualifying Neurological Disorders

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will grant SSDI benefits to qualified applicants who suffer from a diagnosable neurological condition. The most direct path to obtaining benefits is to be diagnosed with a condition listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book sets guidelines for the SSA to use in evaluating whether a person’s disability is severe enough to qualify for benefits. There are several different sections, each dedicated to a particular body function or system.

Section 11 of the Blue Book deals with neurological conditions. Section 11 lists out sixteen specific neurological conditions that can qualify an applicant for disability benefits, so long as the condition reaches the requisite level of severity. The listed conditions include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Brain tumors
  • Vascular brain injury
  • Parkinsonian syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Post-polio syndrome
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system (such as Huntington’s disease or Friedreich’s ataxia)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Coma or persistent vegetative state
  • Motor neuron disorders other than ALS

Within each condition, certain prerequisites must be met. For example, a spinal cord disorder is qualifying if the applicant suffers a “complete loss of function” for at least “3 consecutive months,” an “extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities” that persists for at least three months, or a “marked limitation” in physical functioning as well as specific areas of mental functioning.

Qualifying Based on Functional Limitations

Not every neurological condition is listed in the Blue Book. However, even if your condition is not listed, you may nevertheless qualify for SSDI benefits. The SSA will grant coverage to applicants who can demonstrate that they are unable to engage in normal life and work activities as a result of a debilitating condition. The SSA will review the applicant’s medical records to determine a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) designation. If the applicant’s RFC indicates the applicant is unable to work due to a long-term condition, then the applicant can qualify for benefits.

In order to obtain benefits via an RFC designation for a neurological condition, it’s important to provide the SSA with as much medical evidence as possible. Collect and produce medical tests, diagnoses, statements from your physician, and a full outline of your condition, your symptoms, and your functional limitations.

Dedicated Help With Your California Disability Benefits Claims

For help collecting disability benefits in southern California or statewide, call the experienced and successful Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSD/SSI) attorneys Drake & Drake at 818-914-4055.

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