The U.S. Census Bureau reports that today in America, approximately 57 million people live with a disability, or about one fifth of the national population. The Social Security Administration (SSA) projects that in 2014, nearly nine million people will qualify to receive over $10 billion in monthly disability benefits.
These benefits can take the form of SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), and typically exceed $1,000 each month. Eligibility extends to both adults and children, and numerous illnesses, injuries, and impairments can be approved.
So which medical conditions can qualify you for monthly SSI or SSDI benefits in Arkansas? Our legal team has assembled this guide to help you understand how each disability is evaluated by the SSA. If you have any further questions, contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) in Arkansas
Whether you qualify for Social Security benefits is dependent on your personal circumstances, finances, and the program to which you apply. Working with an experienced Fayetteville Social Security disability attorney can clear up any questions you may have. Your attorney can analyze your finances, medical records, educational records, and all sources of the relevant evidence in preparing your disability claim. After reviewing all supporting information your attorney can present your claim in the most favorable light. Such actions are likely to increase your chances of a favorable determination while reducing the likelihood that you will need to engage in the lengthy appeals process.
Because the Social Security Disability program is an insurance program for workers who are no longer able to work, a sufficient work history is required. A sufficient work history consists of both sufficient duration or employment and employment that was recent. Whether the work history of an applicant can satisfy the recent work test is dependent on the age of the applicant such that if:
- You become disabled prior to the quarter containing your 24th birthday, you must have 1.5 years of work history. The work history must have occurred during the 3 years preceding your impairment
- You become disabled after the quarter where you reach age 24 but before the quarter you turn 31, you must have worked for at least half of the time after you turned 21.
- You become disabled after age 31 you must have worked for 5 of the previous ten years.
Aside from recent work, you also need to have a sufficient duration of work. For a 30-year-old worker who became disabled the minimum duration of work would be 2 years. As the worker ages, the duration requirement is generally longer. For instance, a 46-year-old worker would require 6 years of work history while a 60-year-old would require 9 and a half years.
Can You Qualify for Supplemental Security Income Benefits?
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must be disabled, blind or age 65 or older. Additionally, you must qualify by having limited resources and income. Because the government does not count all of the money you make and things you own, an experienced Johnson, AR disability attorney can help you present your financial state most favorably. For instance, an attorney can advise you that the Social Security Administration does not count the first $65 dollars of income you earn through work and half of the earnings above $65. Similarly, many benefits programs like SNAP or home energy assistance are not counted as income.
The SSA’s 5-Step Disability Determination Process
Regardless of whether you apply for SSD benefits, SSI benefits, or both, the Social Security Administration must make a disability determination for you to qualify for benefits. For adult disability determinations, a sequential 5-step process is utilized. The steps in this determination process are:
1. Are You Engaged in SGA?
Substantial gainful activity are the things that you do to make money – like a job. If you exceed certain amounts of income, then you will be ineligible for benefits.
2. Do You Have a Severe Impairment?
To qualify, you must have one severe impairment or a combination of impairments that is severe. A severe impairment limits the things that you are able to do independently or with assistance.
3. Are You Affected by a Listed Condition?
If not, is your condition or combination of conditions medically or functionally equivalent to a listed one?
4. Based on Your Remaining Functional Capacity (RFC), Are You Able to Perform Your Old Job?
RFC describes the things you are still able to do despite your severe disability. If your RFC allows you to perform your old job, you do not qualify.
5. Can You Perform Other Work?
The final step of the process looks for available work that is appropriate for the individual’s condition or conditions. If none exist, they qualify for disability benefits.
To qualify, you must satisfy each and every stage of the sequential analysis. Should an initial determination find you ineligible for benefits, your attorney can file an appeal at multiple levels.
Conditions That Qualify for Disability Benefits in Arkansas
Before considering some common conditions that qualify for benefits, there are two basic requirements that every claimant must establish for their condition to merit disability benefits. Even if you suffer from any conditions listed below, you will not be eligible for Social Security benefits unless your condition is expected to last more than twelve months or end in your death. Additionally, your medical condition must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Basically, your impairment must prohibit you from earning a living.
In addition to the two basic requirements, your arthritis will be evaluated according to guidelines in the SSA’s Blue Book. More specifically, the listed criteria are under Section 1.00, Musculoskeletal System. The SSA will look at your ability to walk, repeat basic and intricate motions, and determine the degree of pain associated with any movement.
The Blue Book lists specific arthritis forms, including facet arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Our Arkansas disability attorneys will gather medical evidence to establish a diagnosis and adverse impact on your ability to perform work-related tasks.
High Blood Pressure
If a claimant’s blood pressure is persistently above 140/90, they suffer from high blood pressure. In some cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. However, in many situations, high blood pressure is a secondary symptom of another medical condition or disease such as obesity or renal disease. If your high blood pressure is a symptom of a listed condition, you could qualify for disability benefits.
The symptoms and impact of high blood pressure vary depending on many factors. Some symptoms that could prevent you from engaging in work-related activities include nausea, chronic headaches, vision problems, shortness of breath, and an increase in the risk of stroke, heart attack, or heart failure.
Cardio-vascular conditions, such as heart disease or a heart attack, could qualify you for disability benefits. While a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, is not listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, many of the common causes of heart attacks are listed as possible symptoms of other conditions, including coronary heart disease. The SSA will evaluate your medical documentation to determine if your condition includes a blockage or narrowing of your arteries, if you suffer fatigue from exercise or exertion, or if you experienced at least three episodes in the last year that required surgical intervention because of the narrowing or blockage of your arteries.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive stress injury. This means that that injury developed over a period of time and was not caused by one traumatic event. Repetitive wrist and hand motions are the most common cause of carpal tunnel. It could also be a symptom of another medical condition, such as arthritis or lupus. To obtain benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome, you will have to prove that your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from performing your ordinary job duties.
The Social Security Administration evaluates skin conditions and disorders that might result from congenital, hereditary, or acquired pathological processes. The Blue Book contains a number of listings that cover these conditions, including ichthyosis, severe dermatitis, genetic photosensitivity disorder, and severe burns. It is important to remember that having one of these conditions does not guarantee that you will receive Social Security benefits. You should retain our experienced Arkansas disability lawyers to help prepare your application.
The SSA removed obesity from its Blue Book in 1999. However, this does not mean you are not eligible if you suffer from obesity. Obesity often contributes to conditions that are either included in the Listing of Impairments or cause symptoms that could qualify under specific listing requirements. Some of the conditions that obesity contributes to include heart disease, hypertension, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, breathing problems, and cancer.
Mental disorders are listed in the SSA’s Blue Book under Section 12.00. Some of the common conditions that could prevent you from working include substance addiction disorders, personality disorders, anxiety-related disorders, affective disorders, paranoia, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders.
To qualify for disability benefits with a mental disorder, you must prove that your condition prohibits you from working. However, evaluating mental capacity is much more challenging than proving a physical limitation. Our Arkansas disability lawyers will have to work closely with your mental health providers and other specialists.
Diabetes does not have a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. Nonetheless, if your diabetes prevents you from working, you might still qualify for disability benefits. It is not uncommon for someone who has diabetes to have other complications and symptoms that are similar to a condition that is listed.
Some complications from diabetes that could qualify for benefits include diabetic nephropathy, diabetic peripheral neuropathies, cardiovascular problems, and the amputation of an extremity.
Respiratory disorders such as cystic fibrosis and asthma could adversely impact your ability to work. The Blue Book has specific listings for asthma and chronic pulmonary insufficiency. Other respiratory conditions that could qualify you for SSDI or SSI include pulmonary embolism, emphysema, and lung cancer. Your behvior must not contribute to your disability, for example, smoking. The SSA is likely to deny your claim if you are not taking your medical treatment or health seriously.
According to the Social Security Administration, strokes are vascular insults to the brain. They are further described as a brain cell death caused by the interruption of blood flow to or within the brain. Typically, strokes are caused by a ruptured blood vessel, hemorrhage, or aneurysm. Strokes are evaluated under Section 11.04, Central Nervous System Vascular Accident. To qualify under this listing, you must experience an inability to write or speak effectively and lack sufficient control over two extremities.
What if your condition is rare? Unfortunately, if you suffer from a rare disease or condition, it is probably not listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. This does not mean you are out of luck. If your condition has similar symptoms as other listed impairments, you could still qualify for benefits.
You could also qualify under the Compassionate Allowance program. To address severe disorders, and some rare ones, the SSA created a special list of medical conditions that are expedited through the process. The list is relatively small, but new conditions are added periodically. Some recent additions include Coffin-Lowry Syndrome, Marshall-Smith Syndrome, and Seckel Syndrome.
Some additional conditions are listed below that could qualify an individual for benefits are listed below.
For more information, you can also browse through our Arkansas disability resources.
Contact Our Arkansas Disability Lawyers for a Free Consultation
To schedule a free, private legal consultation with one of our experienced disability lawyers, call our Arkansas disability lawyers at (479) 316-0438.