Can I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits for a Speech Disorder?

Nurse helping an elderly man with speechA speech disorder can have far-reaching consequences for many people. Not only can it impact your personal life, but it may also hurt job performance. Depending on the type of employment you have, a speech disorder may seriously impact your ability to communicate with co-workers and customers.

If you suffer from a speech disorder that is hindering your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Our Oshkosh Social Security Disability lawyers may be able to help you through the application process. We do not charge any upfront fees for our services.

Call (877) 888-5201 to schedule a free consultation.

Examples of Speech Disorders

People with speech impairments have difficulty pronouncing different sounds of speech. They might distort the sounds of some words and leave other sounds out completely.

There are generally three categories of speech impairment:

  • Fluency disorder – the repetition of sound or rhythm
  • Voice disorder – an unusual pitch, quality, resonance or volume
  • Articulation disorder – certain sounds are distorted or omitted

Some common types of speech disorders or impairments include:

  • Apraxia – when the brain’s signals fail to communicate with the mouth, so the lips and tongue do not move the way they are meant to.
  • Dysarthria – when the muscles one uses to talk are too weak so one cannot form words properly.
  • Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD) – characterized by an abnormal pattern of facial muscle use. People who suffer from OMD may also have difficulty breathing through their noses.
  • Speech sound disorders – struggling to pronounce certain sounds f while speaking. This is common in people who are recovering from a stroke.
  • Stuttering – repeating words or sounds involuntarily.
  • Muteness – inability to communicate verbally due to damage in the brain or vocal cords from a severe medical event or illness.

People may begin experiencing speech impairments as children, which may carry on into adulthood. However, speech impairment may also be the result of trauma or a medical event like a stroke.

Loss of speech is also a symptom of other medical conditions like:

  • Cancer in the mouth or throat
  • Down syndrome
  • Autism
  • Weak muscles, such as from muscular dystrophy
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia

What Are the Requirements to Qualify for Social Security Disability for a Speech Disorder?

To qualify for SSD benefits for a speech disorder or impairment, the applicant must meet certain medical and non-medical criteria.

Non-Medical Criteria

These are any requirements that are not tied to your medical or mental health conditions. This includes:

  • Proof of age – to determine how long you were working before you were disabled and if you have earned enough work credits.
  • Employment records – to prove you were working prior to your disability.
  • Marital status – your spouse’s income plays an important role in determining what kinds of benefits you are eligible for.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance coverage information – the amount of benefits payable is based on how much you have worked the 10 years before your disability claim.

Extent of Impairment

When it comes to determining whether you qualify for SSD due to a speech disorder, the extent of your impairment is important.

If you have had a significant speech disorder that has lasted or is expected to last for more than a year and it has impacted your ability to work, you may be eligible for SSD. The Social Security Administration (SSA) would review your claim to ensure your symptoms fit a disability listing in the blue book. You would need to show your medical records to prove you suffer from the speech disorder you claim.

Proof of how your disorder is affecting your ability to do your job also shows the severity of your condition. However, the SSA may require you to find alternative employment. For some people, this could mean a significant reduction in income, so it is important to work with an attorney who can help you prove you are unable to work due to your disability.

When the SSA looks at your potential ability to do other kinds of work, they will consider a variety of factors, such as your:

  • Age – The burden of proof is greater for applicants who are younger than those who are older.
  • Education – People who have more skills and education may be able to do more types of work than those who have limited education and job skills. That means people with more skills and education have a higher burden of proof.
  • Work experience – Claims examiners need to determine if skills you applied in previous work may apply to jobs in other industries.

Your attorney will likely want you to have a speech pathologist perform diagnostic tests that help detail your speech issues. Doctors’ notes about your treatment and how you are responding to treatment can also be important.

Claims examiners will also want to see if it may be possible to provide you with an electronic device to help others understand your speech. If something like this works, it is unlikely you will be awarded disability benefits.

What if Your Condition Does Not Satisfy Criteria From the Blue Book?

You may have a speech disorder that does not fit the criteria outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

In this situation, you may need an assessment of your Residual Functional Capacity to determine whether you can perform work-related tasks. For example, can you communicate with your coworkers and with customers? Can you communicate on the phone when needed? Are you able to work with others even though you have speech issues?

Call an Attorney Today

If you suffer from a speech disorder due to a medical condition or event that is preventing you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Your medical and employment records are just one part of the claim. You also must prove how your disability is affecting your ability to work normally.

Let our experienced attorneys help you through this legal process. We know how to gather the appropriate evidence to build a strong application.

Call (877) 888-5201 to schedule a free consultation.