How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits After a Stroke

If you’re unable to work for at least 12 months after your stroke, you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits.

To be eligible, you must provide proof of your stroke as described in the Neurological Impairment section of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book.

The Disability Benefits Center, an independent nonprofit organization that helps people apply for Social Security benefits, lays out the following requirements and guidance:

You qualify for disability benefits under the listing if you’re unable to:

  • Speak or write effectively due to expressive aphasia (difficulty forming words, also called motor aphasia) or sensory aphasia (characterized by fluent, nonsensical speech and the inability to understand, also called receptive aphasia).


  • Control the movement of at least two extremities (either an arm and a leg or two arms or two legs), despite at least three months of treatment. This must result in extreme difficulty in balancing while standing or walking, to stand up from a seated position or to use the arms.


  • Overcome marked physical problems along with a marked limitation in any one of the following:
  • Thinking (understanding, remembering or applying information)
  • Interacting with others
  • Finishing tasks (problems with concentration, persistence or speed)
  • Regulating emotions and controlling behavior (such as problems with responding to demands, adapting to changes and being aware of normal hazards)

If you have vision loss or other physical impairments as a result of a stroke, you may also qualify for disability benefits under those listings.

Medical Vocational Allowance

If you can’t work as a result of medical problems due to stroke, but you don’t qualify based on the listings in the Blue Book, you may also be eligible for benefits through a Medical Vocational Allowance. To get this exception, your doctor must describe your limitations on a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation form.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine the evaluation form as well as your work history and skills to try to find work that you can do. If the SSA can’t find work you can do, you’ll be eligible for benefits.

Starting a Claim

You can start a claim right away, but the SSA won’t process it for a minimum of three months after the stroke to be sure that your impairment is long-term. You can file a claim online or make an appointment at your local SSA office to have a staff member help you fill out the paperwork and file your claim. If you can’t easily get to the SSA office, a designated caregiver or family member can file the claim for you.