Financial Help for Brain Injury Survivors: Social Security Disability Benefits

social security card

For many families affected by a brain injury, financial hardship is a harsh reality. Medical expenses from hospital stays, long-term rehabilitation, and devices to adapt to living at home add up quickly, and being unable to work can make day-to-day life extremely stressful.

Social Security disability (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can help, but the system can be confusing. We want you to understand what SSD and SSI are and explain what can help increase your chances of getting approved.

What are SSD Benefits?

SSD benefits are designed to provide financial help for people with physical disabilities and severe mental health conditions that prevent them from working full-time. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year or must be life-threatening.

People eligible for SSD benefits must have worked long enough, and recently enough, to have paid into the Social Security system – usually within the last five years. The money you receive is based on your average top earnings over the past 15 years of work history.

If you haven't worked recently enough or long enough to qualify for SSD benefits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits instead.

The SSD Application Process

You can contact the Social Security Administration office at 1-877-405-2887, visit, or make an appointment at your local Social Security office to get started. Our law firm is also available to help you apply for your benefits.

The review process can take 120 days or more. If the Social Security Administration denies the initial SSD application, don't give up. Over 75% of initial applications are denied. You have 60 days to appeal the decision.

If your benefits are denied, it's a good idea to talk to an experienced Social Security disability attorney for advice. Many people try to take matters into their own hands and jeopardize their chances of receiving SSD benefits.

Getting approved for SSD benefits can be a complicated process, but it's a way to secure funding when you really need it after a brain injury. Get more information on SSD benefits, including details on the claims process and answers to frequently asked questions.

SSI: When You Don't Qualify for SSD Benefits

Not everyone is eligible for SSD benefits – particularly children with a brain injury or people who haven't worked a lot in their lifetime.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available if a person has little or no work history and is:

  • disabled and has low income and limited assets
  • blind and has low income and limited assets
  • age 65 or older, has a disability, and has low income and limited assets
  • a child with a disability

A child is considered to be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental health condition that causes severe limitations and the ability to complete daily tasks.

SSI benefits are based on financial need. The Social Security Administration has a chart outlining income restrictions, so you should find out quickly if you qualify.

Applying for Supplemental Security Income

Contact the Social Security Administration office at 1-800-772-1213 or make an appointment at your local Social Security office to apply for SSI. You can't apply online for SSI.

If you applied for SSI and your claim was denied based on your family's income, you can't appeal the decision. However, you can reapply if your financial situation changes.

If the Social Security Administration denied your SSI claim based on the medical condition, you can file an appeal. The process is similar to filing an appeal for a denied SSD benefits claim.

Turning the Tide of Financial Woes

Families who have experienced a traumatic brain injury know that it can affect every aspect of life and take an overwhelming financial toll. Social Security disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income can help relieve a bit of that burden, but we understand that it can be difficult to even know where to start. Take a look at our SSD Guide if you'd like more information and feel free to get in touch with us with any questions you have.