Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that occurs when there is damage to the parts of the brain that are associated with language. Aphasia does not affect intelligence, but it does affect a person's ability to process language. A person with aphasia may lose part or all of the ability to speak (expressive aphasia) and to understand spoken language (receptive aphasia). Most people with aphasia also experience some degree of difficulty reading and writing.
Symptoms of Aphasia
The symptoms of aphasia depend on the location and severity of the damage to the brain.
Mild Aphasia: A person with mild aphasia may be able to engage in normal conversations in most settings; however he may have difficulty understanding language when there are long sentences, complex words, or the words are spoken quickly. Or, he may need extra time to understand what is being said. A person with mild aphasia may have trouble finding the right word (word on the tip of the tongue) to express an idea, confuse words or use them out of order, omit words, or switch sounds and words. He may also take expressions literally.
Severe Aphasia: A person with severe aphasia may:
- Understand little or anything that is said
- Speak only in single words or say nothing at all
- Speak fluently, but string together real words and nonsense words so what he says makes no sense
Cause of Aphasia
Aphasia affects one out of every 250 Americans. The leading cause of aphasia is brain damage due to stroke. Other causes of aphasia include traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, dementia, and neurological disease.
Working with Aphasia
Most jobs require a degree of speech and language skills. At the very least, one must be able to understand what an employer is asking. Some people with mild or moderate aphasia are sometimes able to hold a job, but those with severe aphasia are not able to work.
Social Security has several "Listings" under which a claimant who suffers from Aphasia or other conditions resulting in loss of language could be found disabled. There is a Listing (2.09) for Loss of Speech. In addition there are Listings for Stroke (11.04), Benign Brain Tumor (11.05) and two lisings ofr Epilepsy (11.02, 11.03). Depending on the basis for loss of langauge, one or more of these listings could provide a clear path to a finding of disability. Even if the degree of language loss does not meeting one of these Listings, a claimant can be found disabled if the symptoms from their conditions prevent them from working.
Social Security disability benefits are an option for those who are unable to work because of aphasia. Unfortunately, the symptoms of aphasia can make the SSDI application process difficult. Our Boston SSDI lawyers can help. To schedule an appointment with a New England disability benefits attorney, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.