How to File for Cognitive Impairment Disability Benefits
While it can be difficult to obtain cognitive impairment disability benefits, it is definitely possible. Here are some tips to help you prepare your disability benefits claim.
What Is a Cognitive Impairment?
The majority of people who file for disability benefits do so for cognitive impairment-related conditions. Cognitive disabilities include difficulty focusing, inability to multitask, memory loss, and trouble making decisions.
Cognitive impairment is caused by brain injury, stroke, a psychiatric condition such as depression, or the side effects of medication. Environmental hazards such as chemicals and pesticides can also cause cognitive impairments.
Symptoms of a Cognitive Impairment
The severity of cognitive impairment varies from mild periods of forgetfulness to significant impairment that results in an individual being unable to care for him or herself. Organic causes of cognitive impairment include dementia, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or a psychiatric condition such as depression.
Environmental or behavioral factors that can cause or contribute to cognitive impairment include exposure to hazardous chemicals, pesticides, or drug/alcohol abuse. Symptoms include:
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Memory loss
- Difficulty learning new information or skills
- Decreased organizational skills
- Mental fatigue
- Inability to communicate
Diagnosing a Cognitive Impairment
To diagnose a cognitive impairment, your physician will look for deficits in cognitive ability and he or she will try to find the cause of the impairment. For treatment to be effective information about both the cause and effect of the condition are important.
The first steps will be a personal and family medical history which typically includes your occupation, possible exposure to hazardous materials, your lifestyle, and a history of the disease. If you have periods of forgetfulness, it's helpful to bring a close friend or family member to help with this information.
Diagnostic tests are used to determine physical and mental functioning. Test results are particularly important to insurance companies when they review disability claims because they provide measurable, objective information. Diagnostic tests may include:
- Neurological examination to test your reflexes, coordination, balance, etc.
- Neuropsychological tests to measure your performance on tests of mental functioning
- Bloodwork will identify any organic problems related to vitamin deficiencies, thyroid, or diabetes
- Brain imaging scans such as an MRI or CT scan that will let your physician look at the brain size and structure for signs of a stroke, MS, Parkinson's disease, etc.
Treatment for a Cognitive Impairment
Understanding the cause of your cognitive impairment is critical for identifying the best treatment plan. For example, thyroid problems can be corrected with medication, vitamin deficiency can be treated with supplements, and mental illness can be controlled with a combination of medication and therapy. Regardless of the cause of the condition, early diagnosis and treatment of cognitive impairment result in the best outcomes.
Lifestyle changes can also improve cognitive function. Keep physically fit and active. Participate in a sport you enjoy, walk, run, or try a new form of exercise. Exercise your mental muscles as well. Read, do crossword puzzles, or play games designed to give your brain a workout. Develop a strong social network with friends, family, and taking part in volunteer opportunities.
All these activities can either prevent or delay the development of cognitive impairment.
Are You Eligible for Cognitive Impairment Disability Benefits?
In some cases, and despite one's best efforts, cognitive impairments may make it impossible to work. If you're one of these individuals, you may qualify for long-term disability benefits. Insurance companies typically determine disability eligibility based on whether or not an individual is able to perform the primary duties of his or her current position or the duties of any job. Review your policy and be sure you understand all of the information.
Other eligibility requirements include the ability to demonstrate that your condition will prevent you from working for at least one year. The insurance company may request a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) evaluation. The RFC will show the insurer what activity you can reasonably undertake, any limitations, and how the symptoms of the condition affect your daily life.
Preparing and Submitting Your Disability Claim
It's worth the time and effort needed to carefully prepare the disability benefits claim form. Read the requirements carefully and gather all the necessary documentation. Keep these three things in mind to keep the claims process moving along.
- Meet all application deadlines. Some insurance companies will deny or terminate benefits if you miss important filing deadlines.
- Read all the documentation before you submit it and be sure the information is clearly written, is accurate, and complete.
- Keep a copy of everything you submit.
We Can Help With Your Cognitive Impairment Disability Benefits Claim
Contact CJ Henry Law Firm PLLC for help with your cognitive impairment disability benefits claim.