Residual effects from a stroke: challenges maintaining regular work activity

January 3, 2022 in

A stroke, also referred to as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA, is an event where the blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Such interruptions prevent brain tissue from getting essential oxygen and nutrients. The brain requires a significant flow of blood to function properly, and any interruption to the blood flow can result in a stroke. This type of stroke is referred to as an ischemic stroke, which is the most common type of stroke.

Other types of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes and transient ischemic attacks. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when there is a rupture of the artery in the brain. This results in damage to brain cells due to pressure from the leaked blood. The most common type of hemorrhagic strokes is intracerebral hemorrhages and subarachnoid hemorrhages. Intracerebral hemorrhages take place when arteries burst. Subarachnoid hemorrhages occur when there is bleeding in the area between the brain and brain tissues. A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, occurs when the blood flow to the brain is only interrupted for a short period of time. All forms of strokes, including TIAs, are medical emergencies. Symptoms of a stroke include trouble speaking and understanding what others are saying, headache, trouble walking, paralysis of the arm, leg, or face, problems with blurry vision, or trouble walking. A characteristic sign of a stroke is facial drooping. If you are experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 911 right away and seek emergency treatment. Strokes may be diagnosed via CT scan of the brain, MRI of the brain, carotid ultrasounds, echocardiogram, or cerebral angiogram. Your doctor may perform surgery to repair blood vessels in the brain, remove blood from the brain, or place a clamp at the base of the aneurysm to keep the aneurysm from bursting (known as surgical clipping). The surgeon may also remove a small AVM from the brain. Recovery from a stroke can be very challenging. Many individuals are placed into a rehabilitation program to help with recovering lost functionality.

Residual effects from a stroke may include loss of use or reduced use of some parts of the body, including the weakness on one or both sides; problems with bladder or blower control; problems with your memory; trouble speaking including slurring or word-finding difficulty; or trouble with cognition. Even with great rehabilitation efforts, the effects of a stroke may occur on a long-term basis. If you are suffering from residual effects from a stroke, were previously working and paying taxes on your income, and are now having trouble performing normal work activities, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Disability team at LaBovick Law Group is highly experienced in handling stroke disability cases.

Social Security will first confirm that you are either no longer working after your date of disability or have reduced your work activity to less than substantial gainful activity levels. Social Security will then determine whether you have a severe impairment. In order to determine whether a person’s impairment is severe, they will review all medical records on file. Therefore, it is very important to provide an accurate list of your doctors and any hospitals where you may have been admitted. Social Security will review imaging and surgical reports on file to determine the status of your condition. Additionally, Social Security will review any comments or assessments from your providers about your functioning since the stroke, such as the strength of your arms and legs or any memory or speech difficulties you may be experiencing. Your providers will note whether you are in need of an assistive device to walk or help with your balance, such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Other items you may need may include a shower chair if you have trouble standing or a disabled parking placard – even if you are no longer driving, the placard will allow your driver to park in spots designated as disabled parking spots to reduce the distance that you will need to walk. Even if you have purchased a cane, walker, or shower chair on your own, or were provided these items by a family member or friend, it is important to obtain a prescription for these items from your provider. This will serve as documentation to Social Security that the assistive devices are medically necessary.

Once Social Security has reviewed your medical records and determined your severe impairments, the agency will determine your residual functional capacity. This is essentially an assessment of your ability to perform certain activities throughout an 8-hour day. For example, to perform a sedentary job, a person needs to be able to sit for 6 hours out of an 8 hour day. Some items that Social Security will evaluate include how many hours you can stand or walk, how many hours you can sit, how much weight you can lift or carry, whether you are able to climb stairs or ladders, and whether you can reach overhead. Your residual functional capacity may include mental limitations as well. For example, if you have problems with your memory due to the effects of your stroke, you may be limited to only being able to perform simple tasks. Social Security will then determine whether there are any jobs that exist that you are able to perform in light of your residual functional capacity. If Social Security finds that your limitations are such that there are no jobs that you would be able to perform, then you will be found disabled.

The process for obtaining Social Security disability benefits can be very challenging. Navigating the system alone is often a very frustrating experience, as Social Security’s regulations are complex and often unclear. To best position yourself for success, it is best to hire an experienced attorney. LaBovick Law Group has extensive experience successfully obtaining Social Security disability benefits for those who have suffered a stroke and are no longer able to work. Give us a call at (561) 625-8400 for a free case evaluation.