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Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments

Social Security Lawyer Guiding Applicants Through the Process of Seeking Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government program designed to assist people with long-term disabilities who are unable to work. Your condition must be one that can be medically determinable, and the medical evidence must also establish that the condition is sufficiently severe. Having an experienced lawyer guide you through the SSDI application process can be beneficial in successfully demonstrating that you have a qualifying medical impairment. Social Security attorney Russell J. Goldsmith has been helping applicants seek SSDI benefits for more than 34 years. The legal team at the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith is dedicated to providing individual attention and diligent care in handling each of our cases.

Overview of Qualifying Impairments

Under the Social Security Act (SSA), a person has a disability if he or she is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments) that is/are severe and can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or result in death. While you need not be permanently disabled, you must be totally disabled. The condition(s) must be supported by medical evidence verifying that it is so severe that it either meets or equals in severity one of Social Security’s Medical Listings of Impairments (see below) or it results in such significant functional impairments that one would not be capable of performing either their current job, or any other type of work that exists in significant numbers in either one’s own local region or in other regions of the national economy.

A qualifying impairment under the SSA can be physical or mental. Specifically, it must be an anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormality. It must also be a type of condition that can be confirmed by clinical and diagnostic tests or other techniques accepted by the medical community. This typically involves medical evidence of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings. A skilled attorney will be able to gather the acceptable medical records necessary to help establish your claim.

The local Disability Determination Services (DDS) Office will make the initial decision as to whether your condition qualifies as a disability. DDS will consider not only whether the medical records support the diagnosis of your condition, but also the extent to which you are unable to function, known as your residual functional capacity. If your condition is determined to be significantly limiting your ability to engage in normal daily activities, it will be generally be considered a qualifying impairment.

Medical Conditions on the Listing of Impairments

The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions and criteria that are pre-determined to be so severe as to automatically qualify as a disability. If DDS finds that the medical evidence proves that you have one of the conditions on the Listing of Impairments and meet the relevant criteria, you are automatically considered unable to engage in substantial gainful activity and deemed medically qualified to receive SSDI benefits.

Many of the impairments on the list are permanent in nature, or conditions that will result in death. However, it is important to remember that you may still qualify as disabled even if your condition is not included on the list. The List of Impairments consists of the following categories of each major body system, as well as a few examples of the types of conditions associated with those categories:

Musculoskeletal System – Includes spine disorders, amputations, fractures, and soft tissue injuries such as burns

Special Senses and Speech – Includes hearing deficits, vision loss, and speech disorders

Respiratory System – Includes cystic fibrosis, asthma, lung transplant, and sleep-related disorders

Cardiovascular – Includes chronic heart failure, heart transplant, and congenital heart disease

Digestive System – Includes chronic liver disease, liver transplant, and inflammatory bowel disease

Genitourinary Disorders – Includes chronic kidney disease and transplant

Hematological Disorders – Includes hemolytic anemia and disorders of bone marrow failure

Skin Disorders – Includes chronic infections, dermatitis, and burns

Endocrine Disorders – Includes hormonal imbalances such as thyroid gland disorders

Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems – Includes Down syndrome

Neurological – Includes epilepsy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors

Mental Disorders – Includes schizophrenic, personality, and anxiety-related disorders

Malignant Neoplastic Diseases – Includes lymphoma, leukemia, and cancers

Immune System Disorders – Includes HIV, polymyositis, and inflammatory arthritis

List of Compassionate Allowances Conditions

Likewise, in recent years, the SSA has instituted a procedure to assist those with serious disabilities get on a fast track to receive benefits. The Social Security Administration has established a list of more than 200 conditions which qualify for what is called a “compassionate allowance,” that is to say an expedited decision, based on what they deem to be conditions so severe that an expedited allowance is deemed appropriate. The procedure allows DDS to quickly identify those conditions that qualify under their established list of impairments, with a minimal need to obtain medical records and supporting documentation from the claimant. Given the extraordinary stress and strain the condition is already undertaking on the individual claimant, the compassionate allowance is meant to allow those in greatest medical need to focus on their care requirements rather than an application process. Likewise, the delay in providing assistance to these individuals is minimized. There is no need to apply differently for SSDI benefits if your condition is on the list. An experienced Social Security attorney will be able to assist with more details.

Discuss Your SSDI Claim With a Knowledgeable Attorney

Proving that your condition qualifies as a “disability” under the Social Security Act is one of the most important aspects of applying for benefits. Have the answers to your SSDI questions explained by a veteran lawyer at the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith. To schedule a free consultation, call our offices at (800) 773-8622 or contact us online.