Social Security Disability Benefits: Eligible Conditions and Disabilities

One of the biggest challenges that Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits claimants face is establishing that their physical or mental condition meets the Social Security Administration’s narrow definition of “disability.”

When you file for SSD or SSI benefits in Virginia, the initial determination is made by a Disability Determination Services (DDS) examiner. If DDS finds that you do not have a qualifying disability, you have the right to request a review by a different DDS examiner. If your claim is denied again, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Whether you are filing your application or appealing the denial of your claim, an experienced SSD benefits lawyer from Marks & Harrison can play an invaluable role in your case.

Our team features a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) as well as the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association’s Social Security Section. We have the knowledge and experience it takes to help you to establish your medical eligibility for SSD benefits.

We are committed to standing up for the rights of the disabled in Richmond and throughout Virginia. With nine offices located throughout the state, we are ready to get to work for you today. Call or reach us online to get started.

What Medical Conditions Qualify You for SSD Benefits?

When DDS reviews your application, it will first determine whether your medical condition matches or is equivalent to the physical and mental impairments which are listed in what is commonly called the “Blue Book.”

If it does, then your medical condition should qualify you for SSD benefits (as long as you meet all othernon-medical requirements.

The Blue Book contains separate impairment listings for adults and children. You can find both lists at the SSA website. The listed impairments are broken into 14 different groups. Those groups (and examples of conditions within that group) are:

  • Musculoskeletal System – Spine disorders, amputations due to any cause and certain types of fractures and soft tissue injuries
  • Special Senses and Speech – Vision, speech and hearing problems, including what is commonly called “statutory blindness” – severely impaired vision that falls short of total blindness
  • Respiratory System – Lung and breathing-related problems such as asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis and sleep apnea
  • Cardiovascular System – Chest pain, high blood pressure, blood clots, heart valve disorder, ischemic heart disease and atrial fibrillation
  • Digestive System – Stomach pain, colitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, hepatitis and cirrhosis
  • Genitourinary Impairments – Different types of kidney disease, including hypertensive nephropathy and chronic obstructive uropathy
  • Hematological Disorders – Disorders that disrupt the normal development and function of white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and clotting-factor proteins, including anemia and sickle cell disease
  • Skin Disorders – Burns, shingles, cellulitis, dermatitis and chronic skin infections
  • Endocrine System – Diabetes, Graves’ disease, obesity, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia and pancreatic, pituitary and thyroid gland disorders
  • Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems– Non-mosaic Down syndrome
  • Neurological Disorders – Conditions that affect the nervous system such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy
  • Mental Disorders – Organic mental disorders, autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic attacks, depression, panic attacks and PTSD
  • Malignant Neoplastic Diseases – All forms of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma and leukemia
  • Immune System Disorders – Multiple sclerosis, lupus, HIV, Epstein-Barr virus and Guilain Barre syndrome.

Your lawyer from Marks & Harrison can compile and review your medical records to help you show DDS that your condition meets the Blue Book’s criteria for a listed impairment or is equal in severity to a listed condition.

Additionally, we can work with your treating doctor and help you provide DDS with a “medical source statement,” which can be powerful evidence and can avoid the need for DDS to order you to undergo a consultative medical examination.

What If Your Condition Is Not Listed in the Blue Book?

Even if your condition does not match or equal an impairment listed in the Blue Book, you may still suffer from a “disability” that makes you eligible to receive SSD benefits. This is called a “medical vocational allowance.” DDS will determine your eligibility by conducting a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment.

First, DDS will determine whether you can still do any of the work you were doing in the 15 years before the onset of your medical condition. If you can do the work you did before, your claim likely will be rejected.

If you cannot, the DDS team will examine whether you are capable of doing any other kind of work. To make this determination, DDS will look at factors such as your age, education, training and work history and whether you have any transferable job skills.

If DDS determines that your condition so severely limits your ability to function that you cannot do any work in the national economy then you would be eligible for SSD benefits.

Marks & Harrison can help you to compile all evidence that is necessary to establish that you qualify for a medical vocational allowance. Because of our extensive experience with handling SSD benefits claims, we know exactly what information DDS or an administrative law judge will need to make a decision in your case.

Does Your Condition Qualify for a Compassionate Allowance?

Our SSD benefits lawyers know that time is of the essence when you suffer from a disabling mental or physical condition. We will explore and pursue all options that are available to expedite a decision on your claim.

For instance, your condition may qualify for the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. This program is for those who suffer from a condition that is so serious that it will obviously qualify them for SSD benefits.

Certain types of cancer, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are examples of qualifying conditions. The SSA provides a full list here.

If you qualify for this program, it can lead to you receiving a decision on your application within a matter of weeks rather than months.

Get Help Today from Our Richmond SSD Benefits Lawyers

When you are living with a mental or physical condition that you believe will qualify you for SSD benefits, you should seek experienced legal representation right away.

At Marks & Harrison, we can help you avoid costly mistakes that many claimants make, and we can advocate strongly for you if your claim is denied. Our goal is to secure the benefits you deserve as quickly as possible.

We serve clients throughout Virginia with offices in Richmond and eight other locations across the state. Contact us today for a free, immediate consultation.