Loss of speech can be caused by a variety of medical reasons, including stroke, brain injuries, dementia, and brain tumors. Losing this basic function creates numerous complications with daily life from self-expression and family relationships to your social life and career. Not being able to communicate effectively with your employer, coworkers, and customers through speech makes work challenging, if not impossible.
A long-term or permanent total loss of speech, arising from physical, neurological, or psychological causes, may qualify someone for Social Security disability benefits if their condition meets certain criteria. For help getting Social Security disability for loss of speech in Pittsburgh, call the team of disability lawyers at Berger and Green to request a free consultation: 412-661-1400.
Does the SSA consider loss of speech a qualifying disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only consider loss of speech as a qualifying disability if it meets the criteria listed in the Blue Book under Section 2.09. The guidelines stipulate that the SSA may consider you disabled for “loss of speech due to any cause, with inability to produce by any means speech that can be heard, understood, or sustained.”
If you are filing for disability solely based on loss of speech and no other impairments or conditions, the guidelines further specify that you must be unable to produce speech “by any means.” If treatment and/or the use of mechanical or electronic devices that improve voice or articulation improve your speech, then the SSA will not consider you disabled.
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In what other ways might the SSA evaluate my condition?
Most people do not file for disability benefits based solely on the loss of speech. Usually, there is another condition that is causing the speech impairment. The SSA will evaluate you under any/all other appropriate listings for other body systems.
For instance, if your loss of speech is related to a neurological condition, the SSA can evaluate you under Section 11.00. If your impaired speech stems from cancer, then it will evaluate you under Section 13.00.
Determining how the SSA will evaluate your impairment requires an intimate knowledge of the SSA Blue Book and disability requirements. Our attorneys will examine your medical records to determine under which sections the SSA may evaluate your impairment.
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What documentation does the SSA require for disability based on loss of speech?
You will need to submit all your pertinent medical files to the SSA for review when you apply for benefits. The exact type of evidence you need depends on the nature and specifics of your impairment(s).
The claims examiner will want to see documentation from acceptable medical sources and specialists such as speech pathologists regarding your condition and why you cannot speak. Your records should include tests, diagnoses, treatments that you have tried, and prognosis.
You can also include notes from non-medical sources about your impairment and how it affects your work, such as from your employer, coworkers, counselors, and social workers.
What are the general criteria for disability benefits?
There are two types of criteria you must meet to collect disability benefits:
First, you must have an impairment that the SSA deems as totally disabling. One way to do this is to meet the requirements under a listing in the Blue Book, such as under 2.09 for Loss of Speech. If your condition does not quite fit the criteria, you can still qualify if you can prove to the SSA that your impairment severely hinders your ability to work and that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). (The SSA defines SGA as having an income of more than $1,130/mo.)
Also, a doctor must expect your condition to last a year or longer or result in death to qualify for benefits. If your condition improves with time and treatment, or if the SSA finds that you still have residual work capacity and can adjust to new work, it will not find you disabled.
Financial or Work Requirements
You will also need to meet either financial or work history requirements, depending on the type of disability benefit for which you are applying. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants will need to have sufficient work credits on their record; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants must have a limited income (less than $733/month) and limited resources (less than $2,000 in assets).
The exact work history and financial requirements are complex and contingent on several factors, from your age to marital status. Have a disability lawyer review your case and determine if you meet all the conditions to obtain benefits.
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What if the SSA denied my loss of speech disability claim?
It is very challenging to win a disability claim based on loss of speech. Actually, it is challenging to win a claim based on any disability. The SSA reports that it initially approves less than 35 percent of Social Security disability claims.
If the SSA denied your claim for benefits, our disability lawyers at Berger and Green can help you appeal your case. There are several avenues we can use to try to prove your disability to the SSA, beginning with requesting it reconsider the first decision. If you are totally disabled, then we can help you fight for the benefits you are entitled to.
Note: There is a strict time limit on filing an appeal. You have only 60 days from the day you received your letter of denial to take action, or you could lose your rights to benefits.
What types of fees does Berger and Green charge for disability claims?
Our disability lawyers at Berger and Green believe all people living with disabilities deserve legal representation for the claims, regardless of their current financial situation.
It is our policy to represent disabled persons on a contingency basis. This means that we offer legal services and counsel without any upfront costs; we only collect our fees if and when you win your benefit award. In other words, there is no risk when you enlist our help. We offer free consultations, as well.
Call our office in Pittsburgh today at 412-661-1400 to see how we may of assistance to you.