Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I am unable to speak?

Many injured employees make the mistake of believing that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will only provide benefits to those who have suffered serious bodily injury. However, a large portion of your working abilities depends on your interactions with others—this includes seeing, hearing, and communicating with coworkers and customers.

For example, imagine an employee who suffers a brain aneurysm while working at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. After she recovers, she is unable to speak—making it nearly impossible for her to respond when her boss gives her orders or a patron asks questions. She may be unable to keep her job, and will likely have trouble finding work in the future because of her inability to communicate.

Qualifying Loss of Speech Conditions for Social Security Disability Benefits

The SSA defines loss of speech as the “inability to produce by any means speech that can be heard, understood, or sustained.” Workers who suffer a loss of speech may qualify for Social Security benefits if they:

  • Are completely mute (cannot speak at all)
  • Cannot be understood when they speak
  • Cannot speak at an audible level
  • Cannot speak for extended periods of time
  • Suffer from a speech impediment (such as a severe stutter)
  • Suffer from a speech impairment due to neurological disorder (such as dysphasia)

When evaluating this condition, the SSA looks at a person’s ability to produce speech through any means, including an electrical or a mechanical device that will improve the delivery or articulation of that person’s voice. The SSA may also evaluate speech impairments under the body system related to that condition. For example, if your loss of speech is due to a neurological disorder, the SSA will look at the Neurological Section of the Blue Book listing of impairments in section 11.00 to determine if you qualify for benefits.

Even though the SSA allows those who have suffered a speech injury to collect disability, individuals will have to prove that their condition is severe enough to warrant benefits.

Are you wondering if you need an attorney to assist you with your Social Security disability application? Download a free copy of our informative guide, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, by clicking the link at the top of this pageor call (402) 933-5405.

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska