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How is memory loss considered by Social Security Disability?

How often does memory loss play into the processing of an SSD claim (social security disability) or SSI disability claim (supplemental security income)? Actually, memory loss is a factor far more than many would realize.

As a disability examiner, I found it quite common to see memory loss listed as either a primary or secondary allegation (a condition that has been cited as the basis for an individual's disability). On some disability applications, memory loss would be indicated in relation to a mood disorder, such as depression (major depression, dysthymia, or, simply depression).

In other cases, memory loss could be connected to an organic condition of the brain, such as a head injury, alzheimer's disease, the residual effects of a stroke, or a head injury that has been classified as a traumatic brain injury. And in yet other cases, memory loss, particularly short term memory loss, would be listed in connection with a syndromatic condition such as chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.

How is memory loss considered by the social security disability and SSI disability programs? In the same way that every condition is evaluated by SSA. It is not the condition itself or its diagnosis that is the primary concern, but, instead the effect the condition has on an individual's ability to work. Work, of course, for social security purposes, includes a claimant's relevant past work and types of other work for which they might be qualified, based on age, education, job skills, and their rated level of mental and/or physical limitation.

In other words, memory difficulties could easily form the basis for a disability approval, provided that an individual:

A) had difficulty accessing previously acquired skills and training,

B) did not possess sufficient strength of memory to perform simple, routine, repetitive tasks, or

C) did not possess sufficient strength of memory to acquire new skills, or transfer previously acquired work skills to new work settings.

How does a claimant, or a claimant's disability attorney, prove that memory loss exists to the extent that the ability to work is sufficiently compromised? As with all cases, it comes down to the medical records, and, in many cases that are heard at the disability hearing level, the statement provided by a claimant's treating physician.

However, in cases involving memory loss, social security will often send claimants to a CE (consultative medical exam), otherwise known as a social security medical exam. And, often, these exams are in the form of a WMS, or weschler memory scale.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Filing and qualifying for disability with depression
Memory loss and filing for disability
Filing for disability with Traumatic Brain Injury
Filing for disability with Chronic Fatigue
Filing for disability with fibromyalgia
Filing for disability after a stroke
Getting approved for disability based on being blind
Anxiety about a Social Security Disability medical exam
Can you get disability for OCD?
Can you get disability for Chronic fatigue and Fibromyalgia?
Is Chronic Fatigue considered a disability by Social Security?
Is an FCE the same thing as the RFC evaluation done by Social Security Disability?
How is memory loss considered by Social Security Disability?
Is Morbid Obesity Considered A Disability?
SSDI Request for Reconsideration
Social Security Disability Back Payment Lump Sum
Appealing a Social Security Disability Claim decision
SSI Reconsideration vs SSDI Disability Reconsideration

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

How to file for disability, filing tips
What to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits
Applying for disability benefits, SSI and SSDI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability?
Will you get disability back pay?
Social Security Disability And SSI Qualifications
Permanent Disability Qualifications for SSD and SSI
Social Security Disability SSI status
Disability lawyer representation, finding lawyers
Who will qualify for disability and what qualifying is based on
Qualifications for Disability Benefits
Important points about filing for disability
How long does it take to get disability after applying?
Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability?
Who is eligible for SSI disability?
How to get disability in Florida