Posted on October 28, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Steven

Social Security for Severely Brain Injury Survivors: Steven Part Thirteen

As discussed previously in Part Eight, only incompetency or neglect could have resulted in someone so clearly eligible, being denied Social Security Disability Income, (SSDI) ,social security for severely brain injury survivors .  Bill’s intervention for Steven also made the difference here too.  He became an advocate for social security for severely brain injury survivors.  From my interview of Bill:

Another thing, when I was trying to find somebody to help him, I was dealing with the local voc rehab person, or Steven actually.  I was introduced to (the counselor) through Steven.  The thing was the times before that he had been trying to receive his SSI or the benefits, I don’t think they were attorneys.  They were people that used to work with Social Security or SSI, they retired and they said oh yeah we can help you do it because we know, we know the ropes.  And it didn’t, my understanding it didn’t happen.

Eventually I went to a, a local attorney that I knew and asked, I said is there anything you can do?  Can you help him?  And he said I don’t specialize in that but I know someone who does.  So we went, it was another small town up the road.  I went and I called her and met with her and she came to our school and met with Steven and she’s the one who actually (got Steven the benefits). But she specializes in disability cases.

Did she get the social security for severely brain injury survivors disability back to his date of injury or just to the date of a new application?

I’m going to say that it was back through the date of the injury because he got a lump sum settlement.

Have you reviewed his medical records?

No sir.

You have confirmed that he did have the severe brain injury and did have the stroke?

Oh yeah. The voc rehab counselor  definitely showed me that.

But another thing I would like to address.   I mean, I really, I was outraged.  She set up some appointments for Steven down here in Memphis and I took off work one day.

This is the voc rehab counselor?

This is the rehab counselor, set the appointments up for a physical, what do you call it, work over workup and a psychological workup.  We were supposed to be at the physical workup at, let’s just say 9 o’clock. I knew the building.  It was on Poplar Avenue and I knew the building.  We got there in plenty of time.  We got up in there.  I had some work with me.  (Steven went into his appointment.) By the time I opened my notebook and sat down, he was walking out.

And I said Steven what’re you doing?  He said I’m through (in other words the evaluation was finished).  He could not have been 2½ minutes.  I was… I went up to this desk, I said maam, what do you call a physical?

Functional capacity evaluation?

Yeah.  And I said what (was that). She says whatever is written up by the counselor.  I said but maam he hasn’t been back there for 2½ minutes.  You couldn’t have done anything. And, essentially, I probably said something I shouldn’t have and then she became indignant and it was just best that I left at the time.  But the point was, I was so incensed with the fact that, how can they get a fair evaluation when they didn’t do anything in the first place?

So what you’re saying is the entire functional capacity exam lasted 2½ minutes?

If, if it did.  Yes.  He literally walked through the doors in the back.  I sat down, unzipped my notebook, opened it up, he was coming back out the door.

So it wasn’t that he got impatient and left?


They were finished?

They, that was it.  I asked him, I said Steve what’d they do?  He said well he came over and he told me to put my arms out to my side and I think he said they pushed down for the pressure or something like that and maybe something else he said and that’s it.  And I said that’s not a physical examination.  He said that’s what they did.

Was this a physical therapist who was doing this or a doctor?

It was a medical doctor, my understanding.

Did you feel like there was an element of fraud involved in the evaluation for social security for severely brain injury survivors?

I told him I was going to I was going to write some, and I wrote the letters but I just, I, I never mailed them.  I regret that and I feel like I’ve cheated Steven and, and maybe the State of Tennessee out of dollars because I didn’t do that.  There was, there was no way –

One of the advantages of the TBI Voices format is that you can learn much about brain injury disability, not just from reading these stories, but also watching the imbedded videos.  If you have watched any of Steven’s videos, it is a bit hard to imagine how anyone could reach a conclusion that he was not disabled, after 2 minutes.  Steven is intelligent, yes. Articulate, yes.  But his speech, his affect, his delivery, all point to significant disability from severe brain injury which should have entitled him to social security for severely brain injury survivors. In our next parts, we will discuss those areas of deficit.

Next in Part Fourteen – The Struggle for a Proper Assessment of Severe Brain Injury Deficits

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447