social security speech benefitsSpeech is an integral form of communication that allows us to express our thoughts and feelings to those around us. Losing the ability to speak can have frightening and wide-ranging effects on your life. Not only can it impact your self-esteem and strain relationships, but it can also make it difficult to find or keep a job. After all, if you're unable to talk, you can't as easily interact with customers or co-workers, or even clarify directions from your supervisor.

Are you struggling with a severe speech disorder that makes it impossible to engage in substantial gainful employment? You may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Here's what you should know about this vital government program, including how Keefe Disability Law's experienced attorneys can help you fight for the SSDI benefits you need and deserve after being diagnosed with a serious medical condition that affects your speech. 

Common Speech Disorder Types and Causes

Speech loss can be caused by a wide variety of neurological and physical medical conditions. 

Speech-Related Impairments

  • Aphasia. Caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language, aphasia is a communication disorder that can result in speaking, listening, reading, and writing impairments.
  • Stuttering. Characterized by involuntary repetitions that disrupt the normal flow of speech, stuttering can have a number of causes, including stroke, intellectual disability, and brain abnormalities. 
  • Muteness. Muteness, the inability to speak in someone with normal hearing, can be caused by neurological or physical impairments.
  • Articulation disorders. These impairments make it physically difficult to produce certain sounds. Articulation disorders are typically caused by hearing problems, illness, and physical abnormalities, such as cleft palate, ankyloglossia, and other maxillofacial conditions.
  • Dysprosody. Also known as pseudo-foreign dialect syndrome, this neurological speech disorder is characterized by changes in pitch, timing, rhythm, intonation, and volume of speech and can be caused by brain trauma, brain tumors, or stroke.
  • Apraxia of speech. This speech disorder makes it difficult to express thoughts, with sounds and syllables often appearing in the wrong order. Brain injuries, stroke, and brain tumors are just a few of the many illnesses that can cause apraxia. 
  • Phonemic disorders. Also known as phonological process disorders or speech sound disorders, these conditions are characterized by an inability to organize sound patterns in the brain and correctly form the sounds for words. Phonemic disorders are often associated with stroke or dementia. 
  • Dysarthria. Usually the result of nerve or brain damage related to an underlying medical condition, dysarthria is physical weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles.
  • Voice disorders. Speech impairments can also be caused by physical problems with the larynx (voice box) or vocal cords, or the result of a laryngectomy (removal of the larynx, to treat cancer).

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits for a Severe Speech Condition 

There's more than one way to qualify for SSDI benefits when you have a condition that affects your ability to speak. 

Having a Qualifying Medical Condition 

You may be eligible for SSDI benefits if you meet all the requirements for a disability that appears in the SSA's Blue Book Listing of Impairments. Listing 2.09 in the Blue Book addresses the loss of speech, “due to any cause, with inability to produce by any means speech that can be heard, understood, or sustained.” However, many qualifying medical conditions can produce speech impairments, so you may be eligible for benefits under another listing, such as:

Being Unable to Perform Substantial Gainful Activity 

Even if you don't meet a specific listing in the Blue Book, you may still qualify for benefits if you can show that your medical condition is sufficiently disabling, meaning that it prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Though the SSA periodically changes the definition of substantial gainful activity, in 2022, it was $1,350 for most SSDI applicants.

Our Experienced Disability Attorneys Can Help You Apply for SSDI Benefits

Applying for SSDI benefits can be a grueling process. Let Keefe Disability Law's seasoned attorneys guide you every step of the way. Complete our online contact form or call 508-283-5500 (or toll-free at 888-904-6847) to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation. For additional information, request a complimentary copy of our guide, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer