My son had a closed head injury at 2 1/2 years of age as a result of motor vehicle crash. He was lucky to have no long-term serious health problems but he did struggle in school. He was diagnosed with a learning disability and with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. High school was a struggle, but he graduated. Now, as an adult, he’s having a lot of trouble keeping a job. He is able to stay at a job approximately one month at a time due to poor concentration and performance under pressure. I hesitate to suggest to him to apply for disability because of the high rate of first-time applicants being denied. We live in a small town where resources are non-existent. What do you suggest?
The cognitive, physical, and behavioral/emotional effects of brain injury can make finding and maintaining meaningful work a challenge. Every state has a federally funded agency that administers vocational rehabilitation (VR), supported employment, and independent living services.
Vocational rehabilitation can help people with disabilities prepare for work and can help put some supports in place. Many states maintain local and regional offices to provide services, so there may be one in your area. They can help try to match your son’s interests and strengths with the kind of job he’d like to have.
It’s true that people with disabilities can be turned down when first applying for disability benefits, but this can be for many different reasons — from incomplete forms or inadequate documentation of the disability. For an excellent discussion of how to maximize your chances of success when applying for Social Security benefits, please see BrainLine’s Figuring Out Social Security Benefits After a TBI. If your son decides to pursue Social Security benefits, he might also consider consulting an attorney.
You can also find local and state resources through our Brain Injury Resource Directory.
Elaine Sherard practiced as a speech-language pathologist and had various roles in the neurorehabilitation field for 25 years, including management and serving as President of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina. She continues as a consultant in the brain injury rehabilitation field as well as advocacy endeavors.