My Condition Isn’t Listed, Can I Still Get Disability Benefits?

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The Census Bureau reports that roughly one out of every five Americans is living with some sort of disability.  Considering the total population of the country, that adds up to approximately 58 million individuals.  Among them, millions receive monthly disability benefits through the SSA, or Social Security Administration.  But what if your health condition isn’t included in the SSA’s “Blue Book,” or Listing of Impairments?  Can you still qualify?

What is the SSA Listing of Impairments?

In order to qualify for benefits, it isn’t “enough” to have a health condition: that condition must be so severe that it constitutes a disability which stops you from working.  (In other words, a medical issue which is mild and easily managed is unlikely to qualify you.)

In order to determine whether or not your issue can be categorized as severe, the SSA uses a reference called the Listing of Impairments, sometimes referred to as “the Blue Book.” The Listing lays out guidelines for evaluating many different disabilities…  But not all of them.

So what happens if your disability is not mentioned in the Listing?

Qualifying for Disability with a Medical-Vocational Allowance

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you are disqualified as a benefits candidate.  You may be able to have your claim approved based on something called medical-vocational allowance.

A claims examiner from Arkansas Disability Determination will forward your application to an SSA medical professional.  Your claim will be thoroughly evaluated, including:

  • Medical Documentation
  • Doctor Notes
  • RFC (Residual Functional Capacity)

Essentially, “Residual Functional Capacity” is an elaborate way of phrasing the question, “What can you do?  What sort of work can you perform or not perform?”

On the physical side, RFC is a scale with “functional capacities” ranging from sedentary work only, to very heavy physical labor.  For example, an elderly individual with chronic heart problems may be restricted to sedentary work due to the health risks involved.

On the mental side, RFC is evaluated by a psychologist or a psychiatrist.  Needless to say, the mental aspect of RFC is not concerned with bodily limitations.  Instead, the mental component of RFC takes matters like memory, logic, and concentration into consideration.

Qualifying for Disability with Compassionate Allowances

In addition to medical-vocational allowances, the SSA also observes compassionate allowances.

To quote the SSA’s official website:

The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative is a way to expedite the processing of SSDI and SSI disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s definition of disability.

The list of compassionate allowances includes many conditions which are disabling, but which are also so rare and uncommon that they simply aren’t mentioned in the Listing of Impairments.  While claims processing normally takes months (or even years in some cases), CAL fast-tracks reviews to be completed within a matter of weeks.

Some CAL disabilities do also appear on the Listing.

At the time of this writing, there are hundreds of health issues which could qualify you for monthly benefits under compassionate allowances.  To name just a small sample of covered rare conditions:

  • Alpers Disease
  • Batten Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • Dravet Syndrome
  • Erdheim Chester Disease
  • Fatal Familial Insomnia
  • Hepatorenal Syndrome
  • Leigh’s Disease
  • Lowe Syndrome
  • Multicentric Castleman Disease
  • Ohtahara Syndrome
  • Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome

If you or someone you love is interested in having a claim approved, an experienced social security disability lawyer can help.  Call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak right away at (479) 251-7767, or contact us online to schedule your private legal consultation.

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