Facts about Dyslexia and Filing for Disability
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.
Facts about the condition
1) Although many people think of dyslexia as a disorder that simply makes people 'see words backwards', it is a reading disability disorder that encompasses difficulty recognizing words, reading, and spelling, as well as understanding the meaning of individual words and sentences, and can even encompass the inability to rhyme. Oftentimes those with dyslexia also have a challenging time with comprehending mathematics, but that is a separate disability known as dyscalculia.
2) According to estimates, dyslexia affects nearly 17 percent of the population in the United States. The disorder affects both males and females equally.
3) Those with dyslexia are not 'learning challenged'; anyone of any intelligence can have dyslexia and although they may have issues recognizing and understanding graphic characters, this does not affect their degree of intelligence.
4) Studies have found that small business owners are more likely to have dyslexia than non-business owners. It is estimated that 20 to 35 percent of British and American business owners are affected with the disorder.
5) Symptoms of dyslexia include difficulty with the following: learning the alphabet, counting syllables, learning the sounds of letters, hearing sounds in words, and retrieving the correct meaning of words.
6) Preschool aged children that are prone to dyslexia may show signs early on. They may have difficulty with nursery rhymes, saying words correctly such as calling spaghetti 'bisghetti', can be slow to learn new words, and may be late in establishing a dominant writing hand.
6) Many people with dyslexia also have issues with distinguishing between the right side and left side, and understanding the concept of time.
7) Although there is no cure for dyslexia and treatments depend upon the individual and their unique symptoms and learning style, those with the disorder can learn to spell, read, and write with the proper, individualized educational tutoring and support.
8) Dyslexia is oftentimes accompanied by other conditions, such as dysgraphia, dyscalculia, cluttering, developmental dyspraxia, and specific language impairment (SLI).
Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition
Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.
This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.
In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.
Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).
Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?
There are several reasons but here are just two:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.
Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.
2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.
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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