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Disability Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injury

A “traumatic brain injury” is a head injury that results in an interruption to the brain’s normal functioning. 1.7 million people receive traumatic brain injuries each year, ranging from mild to severe.

The most common causes of traumatic brain injury are auto and motorcycle accidents, though there are many other causes, including falling off of bicycles, diving into shallow water, and being hit in the head during a fight.

The Social Security Administration does not have a listing for traumatic brain injury, so it’s not possible to get benefits simply by meeting a listing. It is, however, possible to receive benefits by showing that your traumatic brain injury medically equals an entry in the Listing of Impairments or showing that the injury keeps you from working.

The most relevant listing, 11.18, dealing with cerebral trauma, is extremely short. It reads, in full, “Evaluate under the provisions of listings 11.02, 11.03, 11.04, and 12.02, as applicable.

This listing is merely a reference to other listings that might be associated with brain trauma: seizures, strokes, or organic brain syndrome. What you will need to prove depends on which of these listings you are trying to equal.


Listing 11.02, for convulsive epilepsy, requires epilepsy that causes seizures more than once a month despite three months of treatment. These episodes can take place during the day or the night, but they must interfere significantly with activity during the day.

Listing 11.03, for nonconvulsive epilepsy, covers seizures that do not cause convulsions but which alter awareness or cause a loss of consciousness. This listing is similar to Listing 11.02 in that it requires interference with daytime activity and the seizures must persist in spite of three months of prescribed treatment. However, to qualify under Listing 11.03, seizures must occur once a week, not once a month.

Continue to <a href=””>Strokes and Organic Brain Syndrome</a>.