Functional Limitations After A Stroke

Some people are unfortunately predisposed to having a stroke, but in fact a stroke can happen at any time to anybody and its effects can lead to an inability to do any meaningful work.

The severity of a stroke can vary immensely. Some strokes are so minor that they are hardly noticed, but others can cause paralysis of one or both sides of the body or even death. The symptoms are caused by the pressure from blood that has been released or leaked out from a rupture in a blood vessel within the brain.

The functional limitations imposed by the symptoms of stroke you are experiencing are assessed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when you make an application to receive a disability benefit. The SSA uses a series of criteria to determine whether these limitations are severe enough to stop you from working normally.

Qualifying For Disability Benefits With a Functional Limitation

At the outset, the SSA assesses your symptoms against the relevant Blue Book listing, which in the case of a cardiovascular accident (CVA) or stroke is in section 11.04, “Vascular Insult to the Brain.” Because a stroke can have a significant impact on other body functions, different Blue Book listings may be used to more fully determine your eligibility for a benefit.

Even if the criteria under section 11.04 are not matched initially, a successful application may still be achieved through a Medical Vocational Allowance (MVA). While a Blue Book listing criteria evaluation primarily looks at the extent of your medical condition, a MVA takes into consideration both the medical status as well as an evaluation of your ability to work. A residual functional capacity form (RFC) is normally completed as well as a full analysis of your work history and medical history as provided by your doctor and any specialist providers.

The main objective is to determine whether the functional limitations imposed by the stroke prevent you from returning to the same job as before or any job that you are qualified to do.

What to Expect When Applying For SSD with a Medical Vocational Allowance

An application to the SSA can be speeded up by asking your doctor to complete a residual functional capacity form. This may be requested by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) in any case, and in some cases, the RFC may be carried out by a DDS medical examiner.

The RFC tests are not specifically designed to find out how bad your stroke is from a medical point of view, but assess how the symptoms impact on your ability to perform physical and mental tasks. There are a number of standard tests used such as your ability to stand up for a period of time, bending, lifting, crouching and carrying. Other tests may be done such as eyesight tests and a test of your reflexes and coordination.

The DDS will assess the results of the RFC together with other evidence such as that provided by a vocational specialist who will determine what jobs you are able or not able to do.

Functional Limitations for Stroke

Have a professional on your side

It can be challenging enough applying for a social security disability benefit, but in fact it is common for the majority of these applications to be rejected initially. This doesn’t mean that you cannot obtain a benefit, but it does mean you have to provide better evidence that your functional limitations are as severe as you have been claiming. An experienced disability lawyer can help you prepare the medical and work history evidence to support an application for a benefit and can represent you in an administrative review hearing if you request this. Your chances of successfully obtaining a benefit are improved with the help of a lawyer.

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