Can memory loss be disabling?

Last month, we wrote a blog post about the devastating effects of a severe brain injury. One such result of a traumatic brain injury could be memory loss. At a minimum, memory loss can be confusing and frustrating but if a person experiences significant memory loss or conditions like anterograde amnesia, that person’s life can be completely turned upside down.

In many cases, people with extreme memory loss or disorientation to place or time can be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, proving that these types of organic mental disorders are severe and actually prevent a person from working in a meaningful capacity can be more difficult than people realize.

For example, a court in the U.K. recently declared that a woman who suffered a brain injury and cannot form new memories is considered “fit to work;” she was denied benefits similar to SSDI disability benefits in the U.S.

The woman suffers from anterograde amnesia and she has to keep a journal of what she does every day to cope with her condition.

She applied for disability benefits but was denied because she is evidently capable of walking and talking without assistance and can therefore complete certain jobs.

However, if a person cannot form new memories, how can he or she perform any job that involves learning or remembering anything? If there are rules and procedures for how to do a job safely, how can a person be expected to comply with them if they can’t remember any training? Doesn’t the fact that a person will have to repeat training every day seem counterproductive?

While this situation took place in another country, there are distinct similarities to cases like it right here in the U.S. The Social Security Administration is overburdened and benefits are in serious danger of running out. Because of this, administrators regularly deny claims for benefits, especially if a person seems physically capable of working. 

Many people in this country need to fight to receive crucial benefits like SSDI. If you are in this position, you should know you don’t have to go through this alone. You can work with an attorney who can help you through the application process as well as the appeals process, if necessary.

Source: Independent, “Woman whose amnesia makes her think every day is 15 October 2014 declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP,” Jon Stone, Sept. 9, 2015