The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports spending $10.3 billion on approximately 8.8 million disabled workers in 2013, with an average monthly benefit of just under $1,150. Disability benefits help millions of Americans who are unable to earn income because of a health condition; but how do you know if the SSA considers you to be disabled? One of the most important guides the SSA uses is its Listing of Impairments, which catalogs different conditions with guidelines for how they are evaluated. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some common conditions that can qualify you for disability benefits in Arkansas.
The Listing of Impairments: Main Categories
The SSA actually maintains two separate versions of the official Listing of Impairments: one for adults, and one for children. The two listings share many similarities, though the child listings include an additional category (Growth Impairment). In this post, we’ll focus on the adult listings. You can view the full text of the adult listings here, or view the childhood listings here.
The adult listings are broken down into 14 categories:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory System
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary (Kidney) Impairments
- Hematological (Blood) Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Mental Disorders
- Malignant Neoplastic Diseases (Tumors, Cancer)
- Immune System Disorders
Common Conditions That Could Qualify You for Benefits
- Major Joint Dysfunction (Section 1.02)
- Spinal Disorders (1.04)
- Amputation (1.05)
- Fractures (1.06, 1.07)
Senses and Speech
- Vision Loss (2.02, 2.03, 2.04)
- Speech Loss (2.09)
- Hearing Loss (2.10, 2.11)
- Asthma (3.03)
- Cystic Fibrosis (3.04)
- Lung Transplant (3.11)
- Chronic Heart Failure (4.02)
- Heart Disease (4.04)
- Heart Transplant (4.09)
- Arterial Disease (4.12)
- Chronic Liver Disease (5.05)
- Liver Transplant (5.09)
- Impaired Renal Function (6.02)
- Chronic Anemia (7.02)
- Sickle Cell Disease (7.03)
- Dermatitis (8.05)
- Burns (8.08)
- Thyroid Disorders (9.00 B2)
- Diabetes (9.00 B5)
- Down Syndrome (10.06)
- Epilepsy (11.02, 11.03)
- Parkinson’s Disease (11.06)
- Cerebral Palsy (11.07)
- Multiple Sclerosis (11.09)
- Schizophrenia (12.03)
- Anxiety-Related Disorders (12.06)
- Personality Disorders (12.08)
- Substance Addiction Disorders (12.09)
Malignant Neoplastic Diseases
- Skin (13.03)
- Lymphoma (13.05)
- Leukemia (13.06)
- Breast (13.10)
- Lungs (13.14)
- Small/Large Intestine (13.17, 13.18)
- Pancreas (13.20)
- Bladder (13.22)
- Prostate (13.24)
- Testicles (13.25)
- Bone Marrow Transplants/Stem Cell Treatments (13.28)
- HIV (14.08)
- Inflammatory Arthritis (14.09)
How Disabilities Are Evaluated by the SSA
It’s important to be aware of the fact that simply having a condition mentioned in the Listing of Impairments may not be “enough” to qualify you for benefits. The SSA must be satisfied that your condition constitutes a severe impairment, meaning it will prohibit you from working in either your old job or in a new position. Your disability must also have lasted or be expected to last for a period of at least 12 months.
In addition to the generic requirements for proving disability, the Listing of Impairments breaks down each health issue by specific points. For obvious reasons, diabetes and a lung transplant would be weighed based on factors specific to that condition.
Some of the requirements for demonstrating severe disability are relatively straightforward — for example, burns only mention “extensive skin lesions” — while others are very complex from a medical standpoint. The section for spinal disorders, for example, discusses, “Spinal arachnoiditis, confirmed by an operative note or pathology report of tissue biopsy, or by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, manifested by severe burning or painful dysesthesia, resulting in the need for changes in position or posture more than once every 2 hours.”
As these two examples make plain, some conditions are simply harder to “prove” than others. For that reason, it’s important you’re prepared with as much medical documentation as you can assemble.
It’s also important to think about approaching any concerns with a disability benefits lawyer. More than half of all applicants are turned away on the first try, and the approval rate for successive applications is even lower. An experienced Fayetteville AR disability lawyer can help. Call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online.
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