What Qualifies as a Disability?

December 17,2018
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What Conditions Qualify for SSD and SSI?

Each year, the federal government issues a release in which they describe the various conditions that would qualify an applicant for SSD or SSI. This is known as the Blue Book. None of what is mentioned there is entirely useful, though. That’s because those with the conditions mentioned in the Blue Book are denied all the time. On the other hand, others with conditions that are not listed may qualify. Technically, the conditions would “automatically qualify” an applicant for benefits but only if specific criteria are met. Those specific criteria are more important than the condition itself.

Why, then, does the Social Security Administration put out a pamphlet each year regarding conditions that qualify one for disability while granting disability benefits to those who have conditions not listed in the book? Nobody knows. One popular theory? The SSA has a budget that they have to spend in order to get funding for the following year.

My Condition Is Listed in the Blue Book, But My Symptoms Don’t Match Entirely

This happens often. The Blue Book is a guideline for those applying for disability. It might give some helpful information in some instances. Still, those who find that their symptoms match the Blue Book listing exactly will be denied. However, others will qualify for benefits even when they don’t have all of the symptoms.

The most important factor that the court will use when granting an applicant benefits is the extent to which the disability prevents the applicant from working.

The Blue Book Doesn’t List My Condition

You’re not alone. There are a number of conditions that aren’t listed in the Blue Book that nonetheless should and do qualify an applicant to receive disability benefits. One such condition is migraines. If you have persistent migraines that your doctor has well documented, you can apply for disability. The SSA will grant you benefits if your migraines severely impair your ability to sustain gainful employment.

Then How Does the SSA Determine What Qualifies as a Disability?

Confused? Don’t worry. The underlying factor is always going to be whether or not you can work. This doesn’t just mean applying for a job and staying there for a few months until your condition flares up and you need to be replaced. It means that you can sustain gainful employment for an extended period of time in a field that you are reasonably qualified for.

The SSA will make a determination as to your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). For instance, paralysis may be a disorder the Blue Book has in its listings. But those who can’t walk can still type or do other kinds of labor in spite of not having the use of their legs. If the individual had only minimal use of their arms and their legs, then they would likely not be able to find employment anywhere.

The SSA will work with a state agency known as the Disability Determination Services (DDS). The DDS will employ a medical consultant whose job it will be to determine what you can do. They will look at your medical records and your employment history. They will then determine how your disability has hampered your ability to sustain employment.

What if a doctor has disqualified you from doing manual labor? The RFC may find that you are able to sedentary work. But if your work history provides no evidence that you are qualified for such work, you still may be able to get disability.

In other cases, your ability to perform physical tasks may not be a factor at all. For instance, if you can lift 300 lbs with your pinky but suffer from severe mental illness, your mental illness will factor into your ability to sustain employment, even if you are physically able.

Talk to a New York Disability Attorney to Learn More About What Qualifies as a Disability

By working with a disability attorney, you can increase the odds that you will present a complete picture to the SSA and DDS when you apply for benefits. Hermann Law Group, PLLC will work tirelessly to help you. We will collect data, reach out to doctors, and ensure that your application shows as complete a picture as possible. Contact us today.