Social Security Disability and Neurological Disorders

"Brain"In addition to the hundreds of medical conditions that qualify a person for Social Security disability, many different types of neurological disorders can also prevent individuals from working and providing for themselves and their families.

Defining neurological disorders

When people think of neurological disorders, they typically think of injuries directly to the brain. These disorders, however, can affect any part of the nervous system. Neurological disorders are defined as “diseases of the brain, spine, and the nerves that connect them.” A more specific definition from the World Health Organization defines neurological disorders as “diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. In other words, the brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, peripheral nerves, nerve roots, autonomic nervous system, neuromuscular junction, and muscles.”

Neurological injuries can be particularly devastating, as they alter your ability to think and operate properly. Injuries to the nervous system typically affect your movement, speech, ability to swallow and speak, breathing patterns, mood, and memory. Neurological disorders are not to be confused with mental disorders, which are diagnosed by their distinct abnormalities of thought and behavior. Common neurological disorders include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Chronic migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain tumors
  • Parkinson’s disease

Accepted neurological disorders

In their Blue Book, the Social Security Administration has a listing for 17 different categories of neurological disorders in adults. These conditions are as follows:

  1. Convulsive epilepsy
  2. Non-convulsive epilepsy
  3. Central nervous system vascular accident
  4. Brain tumors
  5. Parkinsonian Syndrom
  6. Cerebral Palsy
  7. Spinal cord or nerve root lesions
  8. Multple Sclerosis
  9. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  10. Anterior Poliomyelitis
  11. Myasthenia Gravis
  12. Muscular Dystrophy
  13. Peripheral neuropathies
  14. Subacute combined cord degeneration
  15. Other degenerative diseases
  16. Cerebral trauma
  17. Syringomyelia

While the Social Security Administration will consider other neurological disorders for disability benefits, it is easier to prove your case if your condition exactly matches a listing in the Blue Book.

Causes and treatment

According to Medline Plus, there are over 600 known neurologic diseases. These disorders can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Faulty/inherited genes
  • Problems with the way the nervous system develops
  • Harm to cells or degenerative diseases where cells die off
  • Diseases of blood vessels that go to the brain
  • Injuries to the brain and/or spinal cord
  • Seizure disorders
  • Cancer
  • Infections

Not every neurological disorder can be cured, but many can be treated and even prevented. Depending on the type and severity of a neurological disorder, medical specialists may be able to treat the condition or cure it to a certain degree. Many neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and migraines, can often be treated with medication. Surgeries ranging from minimally-invasive to extremely-complicated are also sometimes possible. Patients with neurological disorders are also often good candidates for therapies and mental exercises to help them manage their conditions.

At Summit Disability Law Group, we know that living with a neurological disorder can be incredibly challenging. Many neurological disorders prevent individuals from returning to previous jobs or from ever working in the first place, which can be devastating to deal with. As your Social Security disability advocates, we promise to help fight for the benefits you deserve and to make living with your condition as easy as possible. If you are currently suffering from a neurological disorder that is preventing you from working and providing for yourself, call us today at (801) 890-1030.

Sources:, Disability Secrets, North Shore LIJ

Photo Courtesy of _DJ_ and Creative Commons