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How A Disability is Determined for SSDI

How A Disability is Determined for SSDI

Qualifying for social security disability insurance (SSDI) is confusing for several reasons, including what the definition of disability encompasses, who may be eligible for SSDI benefits, and what constitutes a medical impairment. In Arkansas, many are unaware that impairment makes them suitable for disability.

To learn more about the medical conditions that qualify for disability, go here to check the Social Security Administration (SSA) Blue Book, which lists qualifying medical conditions. For information on children under the age of 18, click here.

The Blue Book lists all disabling impairments that make an individual automatically “disabled” and eligible for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). The book explains the requirements that need to be met and evaluated by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Blue Book also contains information about disability benefits programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), and outlines the process for determining disabilities. 

A disability, as outlined in the Social Security Act (SSA), is a person who cannot work due to any significant degree due to a physical or mental impairment, as determined by a doctor. This impairment can be expected to last, or has lasted, for more than twelve months and may result in the applicant passing away.

A medically determinable impairment may have originated from psychological, anatomical, or physiological abnormalities. An applicant cannot allege a mental or physical impairment without medical proof.

Who May Be Eligible for Disability Benefits?

There are three categories of people who may be able to qualify for benefits claiming disability. They are:

  • An insured worker under the age of 65 who is disabled;
  • An individual disabled before turning 22 is dependent on a deceased (insured) parent or a parent entitled to Title II disability/retirement benefits; or
  • A widower or widow, 50 – 60 years old, who is disabled and whose spouse was insured under Social Security.

Because you may have an eligible condition, you must prove to the SSA that your condition meets the listed requirements. Explaining your condition is relevant whether you are applying for SSDI or SSI.

The Qualification Process for SSDI

The SSA follows a five-step process to qualify eligible applicants for benefits. Those steps include:

  • Are you working? If so, you may not be eligible for disability benefits. If you work and make more than $1,350, you do not qualify for SSDI.
  • Evaluate if you have a severe medical condition. An SSA claims evaluator assesses whether your medical condition prevents you from carrying out basic activities, such as sitting, walking, speaking, lifting, or standing. Your claim can be denied if your medical condition does not prevent you from doing those activities.
  • Check the Blue Book for a listed medical condition. The book contains information on over 100 mental and physical conditions that qualify and the criteria to meet to qualify. If a severe illness is not listed, an Arkansas disability attorney can help show you meet the requirements for other listed conditions.
  • Are you able to do past work? Should your condition not meet a published listing, a claims examiner assesses if your impairment stops you from doing what you used to do when working in the past.
  • Is there other work that you can perform? If you cannot do what you once did, the claims examiner determines if your medical impairment means you cannot do any other work. Factors considered here are transferable skills, education, condition, age, and experience. Your claim can be denied if an examiner determines that you can adjust to a different work situation.

What About a Severe Medical Impairment?

To be classified as a severe impairment, there must be a disability or combination of conditions that substantially limit an individual’s mental or physical abilities. These disabilities must extensively interfere with an individual’s ability to do critical work tasks. If a physical condition does not significantly limit the ability to work, it is not listed as a severe impairment, and disability benefits are denied.

SSA Blue Book Listed Impairments

Here are some listed impairments and disorders that may qualify you for SSDI or SSI benefits. Each heading covers specific symptoms. There are two parts to the Blue Book. Part A refers to disabilities for adults 18 years of age or over. Common adult disabilities relate to:

  • Cardiovascular Systems
  • Cancers
  • Congenital Disorders
  • Digestive System Disabilities
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Genitourinary Disorders
  • Hematological Disorders
  • Immune System Disorders
  • Mental Disorders
  • Musculoskeletal Systems
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Skin Disorders
  • Respiratory Disorders

It is essential to understand that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two federal programs providing income to disabled individuals. Although the two programs seem similar, they are different.

SSI helps disabled individuals with low income who may have trouble paying for food, shelter, and clothing. To qualify for SSI, the applicant must pass a “means test.”

Contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield

SSDI is an entitlement program, meaning it is not “needs-based.” This program is only for those who have paid into Social Security for at least ten years. This program’s payments are based on the amount of an applicant’s lifetime earnings before being disabled. They are not based on the severity or degree of the disability.

Not everyone who applies for SSDI is going to qualify. The process is arduous, and having the assistance of an experienced SSDI attorney from the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield makes a difference in your chances of securing benefits.

The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. represents social security disability claims from Northwest Arkansas, including Fort Smith, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville, Bentonville, Berryville, and Harrison. Call us today for your free consultation at (479) 361-3575.

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