Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler May 14, 2016

When seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, a key element is whether you are disabled or impaired. That’s because the SSA has complex rules in determining eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.

Your doctor may say you’re disabled, but the SSA may say you’re impaired, and thus not qualified for SSDI. Why do such distinctions apply?

Impaired May Not Mean Disabled

A person can be significantly impaired and yet have no disability in the view of the SSA. On the other hand, someone might be considered disabled and yet suffer only a small level of impairment. The distinction lies in the context — that is, what kind of work the person is accustomed to doing.

For example, if a person’s job involves working on a dock at a port, and that person suffers paralysis which necessitates using a wheelchair, the individual likely would be deemed disabled by the SSA. Yet if a different person worked at a desk as an accountant and suffered the same paralysis also requiring a wheelchair, that person likely would not be deemed disabled by the SSA.

The latter person, after all, would still be able to perform the job to which he or she was accustomed while sitting at a desk, despite having the same injury which would make the dock worker, by contrast, disabled.

Thus, while each injury is considered an impairment, the impairment may or may not be deemed a disability by the SSA. It depends on the situation.

In short, to receive disability benefits, your physical or mental impairment must make you disabled in terms of your work, and thus unable to perform work to which you’re accustomed.

But qualifying involves more than ability or inability to do the same job. If you can adapt and be trained for a different job, the SSA may not consider your impairment to be a disability. After all, then you still could work. Younger persons are more likely to be evaluated on this basis.

Besides that, the SSA assesses the time period for which you are unable to work. In the SSA’s view, to be eligible for SSDI, you must not be able to work in a job to which you are accustomed for at least 12 months.

Nature of Impairments is Crucial

A vital factor also is the nature of your impairment and the disability that you claim to have. Not all impairments qualify as the basis for disability payments. The specific nature of the impairment is crucial.

Some injuries or impairments which are more likely to qualify for disability include:

  • A stroke leading to paralysis or significant weakness on one side of your body.
  • Heart failure, a history of heart attacks or other heart conditions or cardiovascular conditions, including congestive heart failure.
  • Seizures, such as epilepsy or Grand Mal seizures, when documented as occurring six times within one year. A Petite Mal seizure once per week also may qualify,
  • Tremors, multiple sclerosis or other neurological ailments.
  • Blindness.
  • Deafness to the point of needing a phone service for the hearing impaired.
  • Needing dialysis treatments for diabetes several times per week.
  • Needing regular cancer treatments.
  • Mental conditions requiring hospitalizations, including dementia.
  • A suicide attempt in the previous two years.

Qualifying Can be a Battle

Even with one of these physical or mental conditions, qualifying for disability payments can be a battle. The SSA is a huge bureaucracy which handles thousands of claims for SSDI benefits daily and as many as two-thirds of initial disability claims are rejected.

You may need help from an experienced and knowledgeable disability lawyer to steer your claim to a successful approval. That can involve helping you file your claim, or making an appeal for you if your claim is denied. A majority of appeals can prevail.

Jim Adler & Associates has such skilled SSDI attorneys for you. Contact our law firm today for a free review of your case. Then you can decide how you want to proceed.

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