Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits

If you’ve been injured or face a serious chronic illness, then you might find yourself unable to work or even struggling to keep a job. You do not want to consider yourself disabled, but you are reaching a point in which you must accept your limitations and your new reality. You have considered social security disability benefits, but are not sure whether you would qualify of it that is the right path for you. The disability process can be long and complicated. Below are some considerations for understanding social security disability benefits and whether you qualify.

  • Your illness or injury has to cause actual limitations. There are some diagnoses that are very serious and upsetting, but may not actually cause any limitations presently. HIV is a good example. Many people live with HIV for a long time before experiencing any systems from the condition. Therefore, unless your medical condition results in actual limitations, then you will not qualify.
  • If treatment eliminates or significantly reduces your limitations, then you will not be found disabled. If you have 20/400 vision without glasses, but your visions is corrected with glasses, you cannot say that you cannot work due to blindness. Likewise, if you took your medication as prescribed and your limitations cease, then you cannot be considered disabled where you simply refuse to take the medication. However, if treatment would alleviate your limitation but you can prove there is a legitimate reason for your failure to follow prescribed treatment, then you may still be disabled. An example would be a failure to wear a prosthesis due to chronic ulcerations of the skin.
  • Your limitations have to last at least 12 months or be expected to last that long. To be found disabled under Social Security’s rules, your limitations cannot be short-term. Though you might have had a back injury that severely limits you for three months, if you then get a surgery that corrects your problem after another three months of recovery, then you probably will not qualify for benefits.
  • A finding of disability under Social Security’s rules a legal, not medical, conclusion. Though your doctor may have told you that you are “totally disabled,” that will not be enough for Social Security to find you disabled. If your doctor is willing to assist you with your claim, it is better that he or she assign you actual limitations in your medical record with an anticipated duration of limitation outlined as well. Therefore, Social Security can take those limitations and determine whether you can work with them.
  • You need medical evidence. Though a finding of disability is a legal rather than a medical one, you still need medical evidence to support your claim. Usually, one diagnostic test or one visit to the doctor will not be enough because you need to prove that you meet the duration requirement outlined above and that you are following prescribed treatment and still have limitations.
  • Your disability can be based on multiple medical conditions. If you have multiple medical conditions that independently would result in disability, they might all work together to result in disability. For example, you might have moderate bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome and social anxiety. In this case, if cannot work with your hands and you cannot work with people, then it is unlikely that there are any jobs out in the national economy that support you gainfully. Similarly, if you need to take a medication to treatment one ailment, but diabetes prevents you from being able to take that drug, then the combination of those impairments could result in a finding of disability (and a justification for failure to follow prescribed treatment).

Experiencing disability is difficult and frustrating, but so is filing for social security disability benefits. If you or a loved one need help understanding whether you may qualify for benefits or fighting for benefits, please contact us for a free consultation.