Resources and legal help for Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Survivors

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Resources and legal help for Brain & Spinal Cord Injury Survivors

Federal Programs for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury causes mild to severe complications that can negatively, permanently affect a person's mental, physical and/or emotional health. While some can turn to their families for support, all TBI patients can also receive the help of various federal programs.

Department of Rehabilitation

Every state runs its own Department of Rehabilitation, Vocational Rehabilitation Services or some other similarly named organization that is set up to aid those with disabilities. Those with traumatic brain injury, paraplegia or any other permanent disability can apply for help from their state's Department of Rehabilitation.

To be accepted and assigned a caseworker, applicants must prove that they are, in fact, disabled. Although those with physical disabilities won't have trouble proving their impairment, applicants with mental or emotional disabilities, including mild or moderate traumatic brain injury patients, may run into some difficulties.

If an interviewer doesn't think that a TBI patient's disability legitimately warrants the services of the Department of Rehabilitation, the applicant can prove his impairment by providing a notarized statement from a neuropsychologist who can confirm the disability caused by traumatic brain injury. A medical professional's confirmation will ensure acceptance into this federal program.

Once accepted, TBI patients and other disabled people will get a caseworker who can help them:

• choose a team of doctors for long-term care
• find employment (including helping the disabled find the types of jobs to which they are best suited)
• find housing
• live independently
• teach their families, friends and/or employers about specific disabilities

Social Security Administration

Another federal program for TBI patients and the disabled is the Social Security Administration (SSA). Once accepted by the SSA, applicants will be paid monthly benefits based on financial need.

Unlike the Department of Rehabilitation, the SSA only helps those who are completely disabled and, therefore, unable to work. This refers to people who can't return to their former jobs and who can't learn or adapt to new work for at least one year. Similarly, acceptance requires that the impairment cited is long-term or fatal.

If a patient's health improves or he or she returns to work, then that person is obligated under the penalty of perjury to inform the Social Security Administration. At that time, the SSA will review the case and the current situation to determine whether to continue monthly benefits.

For those with traumatic brain injury, only those with serious, crippling complications will be accepted by the SSA. Mild to moderate traumatic brain injury patients, namely those who can still work, will need to seek help from their state's Department of Rehabilitation. 

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