Friday, May 28, 2010


According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot that is blocking an artery or a blood vessel breaks, thereby interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. The result is that brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Typical stroke symptoms include numbness or weakness to one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking, vision loss, imbalance, and headache. If stroke symptoms become permanent they can be disabling.

I represent a 47 year old salesman from Florida who had to stop working because of a stroke. While it is frequently difficult to obtain disability benefits in stroke cases, the claimant’s disability application was just approved in only two months.

Like most stroke cases, there was little difficulty establishing that the claimant had experienced a stroke. The claimant lost vision in one eye, had balance problems, difficulty remembering things and words, and experienced weakness and some difficulty communicating. Unlike many stroke cases though, I was able to demonstrate how those symptoms concretely impacted the claimant’s ability to function.

The claimant developed a fear of falling because since his stroke he had actually fallen several times. This was not an irrational phobia but a legitimate response to an actual risk of significant danger. As a result of the claimant’s latest fall he broke several bones, and was hospitalized. His application was approved shortly after the hospital records were submitted.

The importance of the hospitalization was not so much that he broke some bones evidencing that he had sustained a bad fall, but as I explained, the fall demonstrated that he continued to experience significant and persistent motor loss or dysfunction. The claimant simply lacked the ability to ambulate safely on a regular basis. As usual, it is not enough merely to supply medical records indicating that a claimant suffers from a particular diagnosis, but rather, it is the impact that the diagnosis has on the individual’s ability to function that needs to be established.

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