From professional players to local high school superstars, concussions are a hot topic in sports. The recent NFL concussion settlement proves that players are starting to fight back and want to be compensated for the long-term effects concussions have caused. Whether caused by sports or an accident, here is some advice for how to successfully obtain disability benefits due to the after effects of concussions.
- see more than one doctor
- consider how your symptoms will affect your work
- give it time
- re-file as soon as possible
- get a neuropsychologist to testify
- confuse traumatic brain injury and concussions
- file right away for long-term disability
- downplay your symptoms
- give up
- get denied for lack of evidence
Those with moderate to severe concussions may have cognitive, perceptual, and motor control deficits. For this reason, they should see a physical, occupational, and maybe even a speech therapist in order to treat symptoms and get on the road to recovery. Showing a strong attempt at recovery and having multiple doctors’ supporting statements will also help your case for disability.
Think about a “typical” day at work. Then, think about how the aftermath of the concussion has affected your ability to successfully complete that work. Do you get severe headaches daily that knock you out for 24 hours? Can you only sleep for 2 to 3 hours a night and then wake up exhausted the next day? All of these things affect your ability to work a normal job. If your employer isn’t able to accommodate this or your job depends on you being “on” every day, it’s time to think about disability.
For people with brain injuries like concussions, the most rapid recovery occurs in the first six months after the injury. In milder cases, people will be back to normal within three months. When symptoms persist for three months or longer, post-concussion syndrome can be considered the working diagnosis. It’s at this point you should file for disability benefits.
If your benefits are denied, obtain an experienced disability lawyer and appeal or re-file as soon as possible. It’s likely you will have time limit to appeal or re-apply. Make sure to get a good lawyer, gather more evidence, and try again. Time is on your side as it proves that your injury is preventing you from working long-term.
A neuropsychologist is often brought in when the concussion has caused severe deficits. They evaluate an individual in the areas of planning, perception, concentration, attention span, orientation, memory, problem solving and social judgment…all of which are major factors in one’s ability to work. Having a neuropsychologist who has tested and treated you, even temporarily, testify on your behalf substantially increases your chances of being granted disability.
The words “traumatic brain injury” evokes a much stronger shock than the word “concussion”. Ironically, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which may result in a bad headache, altered levels of alertness, or unconsciousness. When filing for disability, use traumatic brain injury on your application or claim.
While you can file right away for short-term disability benefits (if you have a policy), there is no point in filing right away for long-term disability benefits. Doctors can tell right away whether you have a mild or severe concussion, but they can’t always tell what the long-term effects will be. The brain is funny that way and your insurance company knows this. They will want to see several months’ worth of treatment and anticipated recovery time before making a decision.
Many people who suffer from severe concussions downplay their symptoms because they seem like normal symptoms. They suffer from everyday ailments like headaches, fatigue, decreased concentration, trouble sleeping, memory problems and dizziness. The difference is these symptoms are literally every day and that’s not normal. Don’t downplay your symptoms because they seem normal. It’s the frequency, intensity and severity that are of concern.
Even if you apply for disability after a solid three months of disabling lingering symptoms, your insurance company might still deny you. Many insurance companies just don’t, grant disability benefits no matter what your symptoms are. If you are wrongly denied, get a great disability lawyer to timely appeal.
The reason your disability claim is denied shouldn’t be lack of evidence. Obtain all of your medical records and present them to your insurance company. Get first hand testimony from your family, employers, co-workers, doctors, and friends. They can speak best to how your concussion has affected your ability to successfully do your occupation or any occupation. Make sure you come armed with all of the evidence.
Many people assume that concussions are temporary injuries that are overcome in a couple of weeks with rest and proper treatment. This may be true for some, but for others concussions can leave them with lingering, disabling side effects that severely inhibit their ability to perform basic functions required at nearly any occupation. If you are one of those people, don’t be afraid to file for disability. Get an experienced disability lawyer with a proven track record on your side and you are on your way to a healthier tomorrow.