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Does a Stroke Qualify Me for Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Social Security Disability Medical Conditions

disability benefits, stroke victims, ischemic strokes, Cook County Social Security disability attorney, long-term disabilityAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are a “leading cause of serious long-term disability” in the United States. Each year, the CDC says roughly 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke—the vast majority of them for the first time. About 87 percent of all strokes are classified as ischemic strokes, where the “blood flow to the brain is blocked.”

This is what makes strokes so dangerous. Depriving the brain of blood and oxygen for even a few seconds can produce catastrophic consequences. Over time, the lingering after-effects of a stroke can degrade a person's ability to engage in meaningful work. Eventually, the victim may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Court Questions Social Security's Timeline for Stroke Victim's Disability Benefits

But when exactly does this occur? That is to say, how long after a person suffers a stroke may he or she be legally classified as disabled? The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago recently addressed such a case and found the Social Security Administration's answer lacking.

The plaintiff in this case previously worked as an electrical engineer. In 2008, he suffered a stroke. The plaintiff never returned to work after the stroke. Eventually, he applied for disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration agreed the plaintiff was disabled, but only from December 2014 forward. The plaintiff argued he became disabled when the stroke itself occurred in 2008. Still, a Social Security administrative law judge disagreed.

The Seventh Circuit said the evidence did not clearly support either side. The problem, the Court explained, was that during the that time period, between the stroke and the agreed-upon disability date of December 2014, the plaintiff's medical condition was essentially in a state of flux. For instance, the Court noted that while “initial signs pointed to [the plaintiff] recovering from his stroke and perhaps eventually being able to return to work,” his condition “worsened” in mid-2012. Furthermore, even Social Security acknowledged the plaintiff's condition deteriorated enough to the point where he was disabled at the end of 2014.

Unfortunately, the Seventh Circuit said the ALJ only looked at “evidence from particular points between 2008 and 2014 to support a conclusion covering the entire period.” That was unacceptable. In fact, the medical evidence strongly suggested “the possibility of disability onset” prior to 2014. That said, the Seventh Circuit did not direct Social Security to find the applicant was disabled prior to 2014, only that it conduct a new hearing and properly re-weight the evidence presented.

Contact a Chicago Disability Benefits Lawyer Today

Strokes are among the more difficult injuries to assess for disability purposes, as the victim's symptoms and condition often fluctuate over time. This is one reason, among many, why it is so important to work with a qualified Cook County Social Security disability attorney when applying for benefits, or especially when appealing an unfavorable decision regarding benefits. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC today to schedule an initial consultation with a member of our team at no cost to you.



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