Thousands of people in Illinois struggle with a disability which can prevent them from holding down a job and supporting themselves. The Social Security Administration has set up a program called Social Security Disability, which is designed to provide financial assistance to disabled people and their family. The SSA declares people are disabled if the illness or health condition is permanent or will impede the person for at least a year; if people are unable to work in their same job; and if people are unable to work in a different field because of their condition.
The SSA’s official impairment list
The SSA has a list of qualifying conditions for adults and for children. The impairments fall under the following categories:
- Skin disorders – Bullous disease, dermatitis, genetic photosensitivity disorders and burns
- Digestive system – chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal hemorrhaging requiring a blood transfusion and liver transplants.
- Musculoskeletal system – reconstructive surgery for a joint that bears a lot of weight, amputation, upper body fractures and spinal disorders.
- Hematological disorders – sickle cell disease, chronic anemia, hemophilia and chronic granulocytopenia
- Mental disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and schizophrenia
Beneath each listing is a set of criteria that people must meet in order to be deemed as fitting the SSA’s qualifications. For example, if a person has been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis, they would need to show the SSA that they fit the symptoms listed underneath the condition’s description.
Medical vocational allowance
Most people will not meet the SSA’s stated definition for their disabling condition but that does not mean that they cannot receive benefits. When people’s symptoms do not match the criteria, the SSA will look at the physical and mental limitations faced because of the illness or health condition. If the SSA decides that the person is not able to do any type of work because of those limitations, it will approve the application under a medical vocational allowance.
A person who suffers a brain injury may not be fully incapacitated but the portion of their brain relating to language and communication has permanent damage. This damage prevents the person from understanding others or following instructions. As a result, the person cannot reasonably hold down a job or learn a different type of job skill. This could be enough to qualify them for SSD benefits.
As part of the review process, applicants’ medical information will be looked at by a staff medical consultant. The review covers information such as clinical tests, lab results and doctors’ notes. Therefore it is important for people to make sure their doctor has included information in their notes that could be used to show that function is limited. For additional support, people should also discuss their situation with an experienced SSD attorney.