Getting approved for disability with or without having a specific medical condition
You can qualify for disability benefits with conditions such as fibromyalgia, depression, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, degenerative disc disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, heart problems, and many other conditions. The point being, any condition can qualify you for disability if it causes significant limitations to your normal daily functioning.
Any condition could potentially qualify you for SSD or SSI disability provided it makes you unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity and is caused by a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to result in death, or is expected to last for a period of not less than 12 continuous months.
Social Security uses the criteria contained in the "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security" book (the blue book) to evaluate the severity of your disabling condition. This book contains impairment listings for major body systems. Each impairment listing contains the information or criteria needed to meet the severity requirements of Social Security Disability.
But what exactly are the listings?
The listings are simply the approval criteria for a number of physical and mental impairments. If a claimant's medical records provide the information designated for a specific listing (for example, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, bipolar disorder, or a disorder of the spine), they will be approved on the basis of "meeting or equaling the requirements of a listing".
The blue book contains descriptions, or listings, of over 100 medical physical or mental impairments recognized by the SSA to be potentially disabling, and which may prevent an individual from working. Listings in the blue book are separated by category such as musculoskeletal, immune, special senses, cardiovascular, hemic-lymphatic, neurological, multiple body, skin, digestive, genitor-urinary, respiratory, endocrine, and neoplastic.
If your disability claim meets or equals an impairment listing you may get your SSD or SSI disability provided you meet the non-medical requirements of the programs. About 45 percent of the disability applicants who are approved meet or equal an impairment listing. At this point, you might be wondering, what if my case does not meet or equal an impairment listing?
What if my condition is not in the listing book?
As extensive as this list of conditions is, far and away the vast majority of medical conditions are not listed in the manual, including:
Many disability applicants who receive an approval for disability benefits do not have cases that meet the criteria of an impairment listing or their impairment is not specifically addressed in the blue book.
Medical Vocational approvals
Social Security Disability is more concerned with your functional ability than it is with specific medical conditions. So, if your disability does not meet or equal an impairment listing, do not despair. You will need objective medical evidence to support that you have a medically determinable severe impairment. And your impairment has to cause significant limitation to your functional ability.
If the disability specialist finds that that your limitations disqualify you from any of your past jobs, they will evaluate your potential for other kinds of work. The other work evaluation will take into consideration your age, education, residual functional ability, and job skills. If it is determined that not only are you unable to do any of your past work, but you also can do no other kind of work, you will be medically approved through a medial vocational allowance.
In conclusion, any medical condition could potentially get you approved for SSD or SSI disability provided it can be verified through acceptable medical sources and it significantly limits your ability to perform SGA.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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