What Conditions Qualify You for Disability? / Am I Eligible for Disability?

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The Social Security Administration maintains two well-known disability compensation programs, known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These programs are designed to compensate people who cannot work due to a physical or mental impairment. SSDI is for injured or ill workers, while SSI includes no work requirements.


Disability Compensation: Basic Requirements

The basic requirement for social security disability compensation (SSDI and SSI benefits) are:
You must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from performing any “substantial gainful activity” (“SGA”),

  • Your impairment is expected to last at least a year or result in your death;
  • You are under the age of 65, and
  • You have accumulated a certain number of age-based social security credits in the decade immediately preceding the beginning of your disability (you accumulate these credits by working and paying social security taxes; this requirement is waived for SSI but your income must stay below certain strict thresholds).

The Blue Book

The Social Security system maintains a “blue book” that serves as a guideline for compensation due to various injuries and illnesses that a disability claimant might suffer. You do not, however, have to suffer from an injury or illness that is listed in the blue book in order to qualify for compensation. The blue book not only lists various impairments, it also establishes specific criteria needed to qualify for benefits.

Following are some examples of the type of impairments that are listed:

  • Back injuries
  • Blindness
  • Bone marrow failure
  • COPD and asthma
  • Cancer
  • Depression, anxiety or autism
  • Dermatitis
  • Heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease and IBD
  • MS, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy
  • Hearing loss

How Do You Become Eligible for Disability Due to a Blue Book Medical Condition?

If you think your impairment matches a description in the blue book, go to the doctor and get an examination. Your will then need to determine, with the assistance of your lawyer and perhaps additional medical tests, if your impairment satisfies the specific criteria for that condition. As an example, the criteria for blindness is a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in your better eye with correction (glasses, etc.). If the criteria match up, you can start preparing your legal claim

If Your Impairment Isn’t Listed in the Blue Book

Even if your impairment isn’t listed in the blue book, it is still possible to be awarded benefits under the “equaling a disability” standard if your impairment constitutes the medical equivalent of a listed impairment. If you have a listed impairment that doesn’t meet the criteria, you can still be awarded compensation if your impairment prevents you from working. There is no automatic eligibility — it’s a judgment call by the Social Security Administration (which you can appeal).

You are Going to Need Someone in Your Corner

You are probably going to need the assistance of a social security disability lawyer to accomplish two purposes: (i) to make sure your claim is approved and (ii) to make sure that you receive the amount you need. Contact social security disability lawyer Glenn Martin Hammond for a consultation, by calling (606) 437-7777 or by filling out our online contact form. We serve clients throughout the entire state of Kentucky.

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