What Conditions Qualify for Disability Benefits (SSDI) in Arkansas?

For many people in Arkansas, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are a vital part of their monthly income. However, many people are unaware that their condition or impairment makes them eligible for disability.

Knowing you have an eligible condition is only part of the process. You still have to prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your condition meets the listed requirements. Eligible conditions include various cancers, musculoskeletal disorders, mental health conditions, and other disabilities. To prove that your condition qualifies you for SSDI benefits in Arkansas, you will have to submit medical evidence within your application. When reviewing your claim, the SSA will determine if your condition aligns closely enough with any of its approved impairments. Having a qualifying condition is the first step in SSDI eligibility. You must also have a sufficient earning record and cannot earn more than allowed by the SSA per month.

Call our Arkansas disability lawyers at (479) 316-0438 to get a confidential and free assessment of your case.

How Does the SSA Define Severe Impairment for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas?

A severe impairment, as defined by the Social Security Administration, is an impairment or a combination of conditions that significantly limit a person’s physical or mental abilities.

These limitations substantially interfere with the person’s ability to perform basic work-related tasks. If a medical condition or impairment does not significantly limit the person’s ability to work, it is not a severe impairment according to the SSA. If you do not suffer from a severe impairment, you will not be eligible for disability benefits.

Listed Conditions that Qualify Applicants for Disability Benefits in Arkansas

The SSA maintains a published list of medical conditions that are often considered automatically disabling. This list of impairments is often called the “Blue Book.” Each listing describes the condition, symptoms, and requirements a person must meet to qualify for the specific condition.

Disorders and impairments that may qualify you for SSDI or SSI benefits as listed in the Blue Book include cancers, cardiovascular system disorders, congenital disorders, digestive system disorders, genitourinary disorders, hematological disorders, immune system disorders, mental disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders, respiratory disorders, skin disorders, and special senses and speech disorders.

Within these broad disorders, there are specific conditions that may qualify applicants for SSDI benefits in Arkansas. For example, depression, Parkinson’s disorder, multiple sclerosis, chronic heart failure, and chronic kidney disease are just some of the specific disorders and conditions that make individuals eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Medical Conditions that Qualify You for Compassionate Allowance in Arkansas

The listed impairments published by the SSA will automatically qualify an applicant for SSDI, provided specific conditions are met. In addition to a medical disability, there are income, age, and resources thresholds a claimant must meet, depending on the program.

Unfortunately, the application process could take months to years to complete. This poses a problem for people suffering from severely debilitating conditions or terminal illnesses in Arkansas. To address this issue, the SSA created the Compassionate Allowance program. Conditions that qualify for CAL are expedited. Instead of months or years, a claimant could have their benefits approved in a matter of weeks.

When originally implemented in 2008, the CAL listed approximately 50 specific conditions. Currently, the list of medical impairments numbers over 200. A claimant does not have to do anything special to qualify for Compassionate Allowance. When the SSA is reviewing an application, it will look to determine if the forms list a listed condition that is supported by medical evidence. If this is the case, the application will be expedited.

Some of the conditions that qualify applicants for Compassionate Allowance include acute leukemia, inflammatory breast cancer, stage IV breast cancer, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and pancreatic cancer, among others.

The above list is not exhaustive. If you have any questions about eligible conditions, contact our Arkansas disability attorneys for clarification about whether or not you might qualify for Compassionate Allowance.

What is the SSA’s 5-Step Disability Determination for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas?

Whether you apply for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration will make a disability determination to see if you are eligible. The SSA employs a 5-step process to determine if an adult applicant qualifies for benefits in Arkansas.

Step One: Are You Working

If you are working, you might not be eligible for disability benefits. The SSA will determine if you are engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you make more than $1,550 (or $2,590 for blind applicants) per month in 2024, you will not be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Step Two: Do You Have a Severe Medical Condition

An SSA claims examiner will evaluate your application to determine if your impairment or medical condition interferes with your ability to perform basic activities, such as standing, walking, sitting, lifting, or speaking. If the medical evidence fails to establish this, your claim will be denied. Our Arkansas disability lawyers can help you prepare your medical information and ensure that your application is thorough so that there is no question about your eligibility for SSDI benefits.

Step Three: Is Your Medical Condition Listed in the SSA’s “Blue Book?”

The Social Security Administration publishes a Listing of Impairments commonly referred to as the “Blue Book.” This listing contains over 100 physical and mental conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Along with the listed conditions are the criteria that must be met to prove that your impairment qualifies. When someone has a severe condition that is not listed, our Arkansas disability lawyers will try to show that it meets the requirements of one or more other listed conditions.

Step Four: Can You Do Other Relevant Past Work?

If your medical condition does not meet a published listing, the claims examiner will evaluate whether your impairment prohibits you from performing the tasks associated with past work. For example, if you have developed a respiratory disorder and previously worked on a construction site, your condition might make it impossible for you to continue working at your prior place of employment.

Step Five: Can You Do Any Type of Work?

If the claims examiner determines that your medical condition prohibits you from engaging in any past work, they will consider if your impairment prohibits all other types of work. When making this determination, the claims examiner will look at your medical condition, age, education, experience, and what transferable skills you might have. If it is determined that you could adjust to another form of employment, your claim will be denied.

How Does the SSA Evaluate SSDI Applications in Arkansas?

A claimant can submit an application to Social Security by telephone, mail, or online. The application and other forms request a description of the medical condition, treatment sources, and other evidence or documentation that supports the alleged disability.

The SSA field office is tasked with reviewing an application for non-medical requirements, including age, marital status, employment, work credits, and Social Security coverage information. Once completed, the applications are forwarded to Disability Determination Services (DDS) for evaluation of disability. The DDS is a state agency, funded by the federal government, responsible for developing and reviewing medical evidence in order to render an initial determination on whether a claimant’s medical condition qualifies as a disability for benefits purposes.

In most cases, the DDS will want evidence from the claimant’s primary medical sources. If the information is unavailable or inconclusive, the DDS could request a consultative examination (CE) to obtain additional medical evidence. To improve your chances of approval, it is best to provide the required medical evidence. Relying on the CE could result in a denial.

Once the DDS has evaluated the available medical evidence, it will make the initial disability determination. After the decision is rendered, the application is returned to the appropriate field office to take steps in accordance with the decision. If the DDS believes the medical evidence was sufficient to establish a qualifying disability, the SSA will compute the benefit amount and begin disbursing monthly payments. If the DDS denies the application, the file is maintained at the field office in case the claimant appeals the decision.

How Can I Prove that I Automatically Qualify for Disability Benefits in Arkansas?

The only way to prove you have a qualifying condition is through extensive medical evidence. The primary reason applications are denied is because the claimant failed to provide sufficient supporting medical evidence. Even if your condition would automatically qualify, without medical documentation, your application will be denied.

Therefore, the key is to work with our Bella Vista disability lawyers and your medical providers to gather the necessary evidence and documentation. Having a diagnosis is not always sufficient to receiving benefits – you must prove that your condition prevents you from working. Having statements from your primary physician and any other specialists that are treating you can provide much-needed context to the medical evidence submitted. For example, your doctor could indicate that your condition prevents you from sitting for extended periods, standing, or grasping objects.

Even if you are approved for SSDI benefits in Arkansas, you may have to routinely affirm your eligibility. Because of this, it will be important to continue getting medical care for your condition and document your progress or any changes to your condition. The SSA might ask for updated medical documentation of your condition at any time, even after approving your initial claim for benefits.

What if My Condition is Not on the List or I Am Denied SSDI Benefits in Arkansas?

While the Blue Book only contains a seemingly small number of listed disabilities, each condition has additional criteria that could be used to qualify for benefits. For instance, melanoma is listed in the Blue Book. The listing includes various types of skin cancer, different stages of the disease, and skin carcinomas that have spread into the muscle or bone. If you have any form of skin cancer, you are likely to meet enough of the listed criteria to qualify for benefits.

However, there are situations where a claimant’s condition does not match a listed disability in the Blue Book. In this case, you will have to provide enough medical evidence to prove your condition is similar to one or more listed impairments and prevents you from earning an income.

Other claimants suffer from multiple conditions that, singularly, do not match any listing. However, when the symptoms are combined, the result is permanently debilitating. For example, a claimant who suffers from arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension might qualify for disability benefits if the SSA agrees that the combination of symptoms of these chronic conditions is similar to another listing. Our experienced Farmington disability lawyers will assist you in building a compelling body of evidence.

Do I Need a Work History to Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in Arkansas?

One way to think about SSDI is as an ordinary insurance policy. You pay monthly premiums through FICA taxes deducted from your paycheck. If you become disabled or have a medical condition that makes it impossible to work, you are entitled to monthly financial benefits under the insurance policy. Because you have to pay into the system, you need a work history to qualify for SSDI.

The SSA requires an SSDI applicant to have worked a certain number of years, paying into Social Security taxes, to qualify for benefits. An individual can earn up to four “work credits” per year. For 2023, you earn one work credit for each $1,640 earned in wages or self-employment income. Earning $6,560 will give you your four work credits for the year. Typically, an applicant must have at least 40 work credits, 20 of which must be earned within the past ten years, to qualify for SSDI benefits. However, the amount does vary depending on the applicant’s age.

Furthermore, applicants without work histories might be able to get SSDI benefits through a parent’s earning record. If you are diagnosed with a qualifying condition before the age of 22, you may be considered a disabled adult child (DAC). As a DAC, you must be unmarried and be18 years or older on top of having been diagnosed with your disability before turning 22. If you get SSDI through your parent’s work history, they must have a sufficient earning record themselves. Your monthly SSDI payment will then be based on your parent’s eligibility.

Do I Qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Unlike SSDI, you do not have to have a work history to qualify for SSI. Because SSI is a needs-based program, the SSA will look at an applicant’s income and resources to determine eligibility.

If you are single, your total resources and assets cannot exceed $2,000. The SSA defines assets and resources as any property that could be used for food or shelter. Basically, everything a person owns, such as property, savings accounts, or other valuables, are resources. There are some notable exceptions, such as your home. For a married couple, the threshold increases to $3,000. If you are applying for SSI benefits for your child, the threshold increases by $2,000. Furthermore, SSI is limited to those who do not earn more than $1,913 per month.

For both SSDI and SSI, you still must be diagnosed with a medical condition or impairment that prevents you from earning a living. The qualifying conditions for SSDI and SSI are the same in Arkansas.

Trial Work Periods and Continuing Disability Reviews for SSDI Recipients in Arkansas

Having a qualifying condition at one point in your life does not mean that you will receive SSDI benefits for the rest of your life. If you unintentionally trigger a trial work period (TWP) because you have earned over the threshold for several months, you might see your SSDI benefits revoked in Arkansas.

Trial work periods exist so that SSDI recipients can test their ability to return to work, albeit at a lesser earning capacity, without necessarily losing their benefits. That said, TWPs are automatically triggered if recipients earn more than the approved amount. In 2024, the monthly amount you can earn without triggering a TWP will be $1,110. Earn over that amount routinely, and you will lose your SSDI benefits. Fortunately, there is a grace period that follows TWPs, during which recipients can prove their continuing eligibility. Trial work periods do not impact SSI benefit recipients in Arkansas.

In addition to TWPs, the SSA keeps tabs on continuing SSDI eligibility through routine reviews. If your disability is expected to improve, the SSA might review your case within six to 18 months of its approval. If improvement is possible but unlikely, the SSA may review your case every three years. If improvement is not expected, the SSA may review your case every seven years. During these reviews of your continuing eligibility, the SSA may request information about your income and additional medical records confirming that you still have a condition that qualifies you for SSDI benefits in Arkansas.

Call Our Disability Lawyers in Arkansas Today

Call our Arkansas disability lawyers at (479) 316-0438 to get a free review of your case today.