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Types of Impairments

Defining Your Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as the ‘inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity’ due to a ‘medically determinable physical or mental impairment.’ In plain language, this means that one must be able to prove the seriousness of their condition using medical evidence. Those seeking benefits must essentially ‘tell the story’ of their impairment through their documentation and testimony. This can be a daunting task for many, which is why it is helpful to hire a professional legal advocate to support you through this process.

The SSA Blue Book

Social Security has created a list of conditions for every major body system which are severe enough to automatically qualify someone for disability benefits. You can find these impairments described in detail within the SSA’s Disability Evaluation Under Social Security code, more commonly referred to as the Blue Book. The entry for each impairment lays out what the SSA considers when assessing a claimant’s symptoms. Knowing what points the SSA will assess when reviewing your claim is crucial to presenting your case correctly.

Blue Book Listing of Impairments

  • Low birth weight, failure to thrive
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Special senses and speech
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Hematological disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Congenital disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Cancer
  • Immune System disorders
  • Mental disorders

If a listed condition is not considered permanent or fatal, the applicant must prove the condition has lasted (or will last) a minimum of 12 months. In some cases, a person may be managing multiple conditions that would not individually qualify them for disability. Those who present evidence for several more minor disabilities may still be found to qualify. A disability lawyer in Knoxville can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove that you are disabled.

What Determines My Eligibility for Disability Benefits?

Your medical evidence, work experience, educational background, and personal testimony are all factors in determining your eligibility for disability benefits. SSA utilizes a step-by-step process to determine whether you qualify for disability benefits. There are five specific questions that every applicant must answer to help make this determination:

  • Are you currently working?
  • Is your medical condition severe?
  • Does your condition appear on the SSA’s list of medical conditions?
  • Can you continue to work in the field you worked in previously, before you were afflicted with this impairment?
  • Are you able to do another type of work?

Proving Physical Impairment

If you are suffering from a physical impairment, it is extremely important to have your medical records available when you apply for disability benefits. You will need to provide your lab reports, imaging studies including x-rays, CTs, ultrasounds, and MRIs, if applicable, and all your doctor’s treatment notes. Without this documentation, you will probably not meet the approval criteria. For those who are already struggling to obtain or keep a job due to their disability, gathering medical records and preparing for a hearing can seem like an impossible challenge. Our disability lawyers in Knoxville are standing by to help you every step of the way!

Proving Mental Impairment

If you suffer from mental health impairments, you must provide SSA with full documentation regarding your diagnosis, mental health history, and any associated test results , which can be a daunting task for someone suffering from mental impairments. It may be difficult to prove to the SSA that your mental disorder renders you completely disabled because expressing the experience of living with a mental disorder can be a challenge because of methodology and limited observable symptoms.

In some cases, collecting supporting testimony from family members, friends, social workers, or any other key people aware of your difficulties is a big plus. Those testimonies should help illustrate how and why you struggle to perform routine functions and interactions necessary to obtaining (and keeping) sufficient employment. You can also present a journal of how your impairment is affecting your daily life.

Call Our Disability Lawyer in East Tennessee

At Drozdowski & Rabin, our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys are standing by to help you. Our disability lawyer in Knoxville, Tennessee has represented claimants for many years, helping those living with physical or mental impairments successfully obtain benefits. We understand how difficult it is to suffer a disabling impairment and we are prepared to assist you through every step of proving your case to the Social Security Administration. Give us a call today.

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