Living with a disabling physical or mental impairment is difficult enough without the financial burden caused by being unable to work and earn a living because of it. Two programs administered through the Social Security Administration, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), provide financial relief, but it can be challenging to qualify for them.
The application process for SSI and SSDI is long and complicated. First, you must prove that you meet the non-medical requirements of one or both programs. If you do, you then must prove your medical condition is severe enough to meet the definition Social Security uses to determine that a person is disabled.
Fewer than one-third of the people who file applications for disability benefits are approved after the initial determination process. The disability lawyers at Sackett Law want to help improve your chance of success and keep you from giving up. This blog post explains the disability determination process used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the medical conditions that automatically qualify for disability.
What is a Disability for SSDI and SSI?
A disability, according to the criteria used by the SSA, is a medically determinable physical or mental health impairment that is severe enough to prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairment or a combination of impairments must be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
The SSA compiled a listing of physical and mental impairments that are severe enough to meet the standard for a disability determination. The listing of impairments, also called the “Blue Book, contains 14 categories of impairments meeting the SSA criteria for a disability, including the following:
- Musculoskeletal system disorders
- Respiratory system disorders
- Cardiovascular system disorders
- Digestive system disorders
- Endocrine system disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Mental disorders
- Immune system disorders
If a medically determinable impairment matches or equals a listing impairment, you have met the medical requirements to qualify for disability benefits through SSDI or SSI. However, you must have medical records to prove you have the condition. Within each listing category are specific criteria, including symptoms and other conditions you need to meet to determine that your impairment matches or equals one in the list of impairments.
Each category has several listings that describe specific conditions and their symptoms, signs, laboratory findings, and functional limitations. To qualify for disability benefits, you must show that your condition matches all the criteria of a listing or the condition is the medical equivalent of the listed impairment.
You also need to provide medical evidence supporting your disability claim, beginning with a diagnosis from an appropriate medical professional, including:
- Speech pathologists
The disability lawyer handling your claim for benefits ensures the contents of your medical records contain the evidence needed for a successful claim, including the following:
- Clinical history, including notes from medical professionals of their findings.
- Notes from physical examinations.
- Laboratory and diagnostic imaging results.
- Prescribed medications record
Where appropriate and potentially helpful to your claim for benefits, the disability lawyer representing you may ask your physicians and other medical providers for a written statement.
The determination services of the SSA review all of the medical and other evidence supporting your claim. If your physical or mental health impairment matches or equals an impairment from the listings, it automatically meets the medical requirements to qualify for disability benefits.
What Does It Mean When A Medical Condition Automatically Qualifies For Disability?
The fact that a medical condition automatically qualifies for disability is a huge step toward receiving benefits through SSI and SSDI, but it’s only part of the eligibility process. You also need to meet the non-medical requirements.
Applicants for SSDI must have a work history and paid Social Security taxes on income derived through jobs or self-employment. On the other hand, you don’t need a work history to qualify for SSI disability benefits.
SSI is a disability based on financial need for people with very limited income. The total financial resources of a person applying for SSI cannot exceed $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for married couples.
Compassionate Allowance Program
The severity of some medical conditions, such as brain disorders, certain cancers, and other medical conditions may automatically qualify for the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. The program flags those disability applications where a claimant has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition meeting the SSA disability criteria.
The medical records for a flagged application are reviewed to confirm the diagnosis. The program aims to approve disability benefits for someone with a confirmed diagnosis as quickly as possible. Examples of disorders qualifying for the Compassionate Allowance program include Huntington Disease, ALS/Parkinsonism Dementia Complex, and esophageal cancer.
Learn More From A Disability Lawyer
A consultation with the disability lawyer at Sackett Law can determine whether you have a medical condition that may automatically qualify for disability. Even if you have a medical condition that does not match or equal a listed condition, there are ways for you to qualify for disability benefits. Learn more by contacting us today for a free consultation.