Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How Can An Adult With A Speech Disorder Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Deanna Power

Director of Outreach
Disability Benefits Help

How Can An Adult With A Speech Disorder Qualify for Disability Benefits?
If you have a speech disorder that affects your ability to communicate so much that it impacts your ability to work, you might qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are many different speech disorders that can affect an individual’s ability to speak or be comprehended by others. This can lead to the inability to work. These impairments are diverse and can be the result of damage to the nerves or brain that control the speech functions, physical impairments, or progressive diseases, such as ALS or Parkinson’s disease.

Qualifying for Disability Through A Blue Book Listing
The SSA uses its own manual, known as the Blue Book, to evaluate applicants and award disability benefits accordingly. To be approved by a medical listing in the Blue Book, you must meet the specified criteria for that disorder. You will need to show your speech impairment meet the criteria for that condition. In addition, you must be deemed unable to perform a job. You will need to prove that your impairment limits you enough so that you are unable to safely perform any job.

The Blue Book listing that applies to speech impairments is the Loss of Speech in Section 2.09. You must be able to provide medical records that indicate you don’t have the ability to produce speech that can be heard, sustained and understood. You will not meet the listing if you are able to use an electronic device or esophageal speech to articulate well enough to be heard and understood. You must prove that your speech is not an effective way for you to communicate with others.

Qualifying With a TBI
If you cannot meet this listing, you might qualify for benefits using the other listing. As an example, you might qualify under the listing for a traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebral palsy, or stroke. To qualify with a TBI, you’ll need to show that you have difficulty moving two limbs (could be both legs, both arms, or a combination) that results in your inability to either stand from a seated position, balance while standing, or walk without the use of two crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair. You could also qualify with a TBI if you have severe difficulty performing any one of the following activities:
  • ·         Understanding, remembering, or applying information
  • ·         Interacting with others
  • ·         Concentrating and completing tasks
  • ·         “Adapting oneself,” which means controlling emotions when appropriate

The Blue Book listing for a speech disorder is very specific. If you’re able to communicate with others in any fashion, you will not qualify, but this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You can find a listing for the condition that caused your communication difficulties in the Blue Book and qualify from there if you do not meet the loss of speech listing. The entire Blue Book can be found online, so you can review it with your doctor to determine where you may qualify.

Disability for Hearing Impairments
If your loss of speech was caused by hearing loss, you may also qualify for disability. You cannot receive disability for mild or moderate hearing loss, but if you are deaf or have profound hearing loss, you might qualify for benefits. Two tests, an audiometry test or a word recognition test, are used to determine if your hearing loss is severe enough to receive disability benefits.
If you have cochlear implants, you will qualify for benefits for 12 months immediately after the implantation. Your case will be assessed again at the end of that period and if your condition has not improved, you might be eligible to continue receiving benefits.

Applying for Disability Benefits
If you are ready to apply for disability benefits, you can visit the SSA website at, call 1-800-772-1213, or visit your local SSA office in person to get the process started. The easiest way to apply is online, but you can always bring someone with you to apply in person if you’d prefer. It typically takes three to five months to hear back from the SSA regarding your claim.

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