Gaining access to disability benefits from the Social Security Administration can be a complex and tedious process. You must meet specific work requirements and have a disability that’s considered severe by the SSA.

The SSA looks at factors such as whether you can do work you previously did in light of any medical impairments. If not, it asks whether you can do any other type of work. If the SSA decides you can do work, it may deny your disability claim.

Since the nature of the SSA disability application and review process can be subjective, it’s essential to have someone with experience on your side. A disability lawyer can help you ensure the proper documentation is included in your claim to reduce the chance it’s denied. An attorney can also help you appeal a denied claim if necessary.

A good attorney also helps you understand the entire process better, and that knowledge can help you achieve more positive results when applying for Social Security disability benefits. For example, did you know that the SSA maintains a list of medical conditions it believes create severe disability? Or that you may have to wait five months after your claim is approved to receive benefits unless you have a diagnosis on the compassionate allowance list?

What Conditions Does the SSA List as Causing Severe Disability?

The SSA provides an in-depth list of medical criteria for determining whether someone has a severe impairment. The categories are organized by major body systems, and the SSA provides some information about what it considered severe in each category. The categories for adults are:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders, which would include diseases of the bone, spine, or joints
  • Special senses and speech, such as being blind or deaf
  • Respiratory disorders, which include conditions that impact your ability to breath
  • Cardiovascular systems, which include chronic or severe ailments of the heart
  • Digestive systems, which might consist of gastro-intestinal issues or liver disorders
  • Genitourinary disorders, which include diseases or conditions involving the genitals, bladder, or urinary tract
  • Hematological disorders, which are diseases of blood
  • Skin disorders, which include any disorder related to the skin
  • Endocrine disorders, such as disorders related to the thyroid
  • Congenital disorders that impact multiple systems
  • Neurological disorders, which include conditions that affect brain function
  • Mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, or PTSD
  • Malignant cancer
  • Immune system disorders, such as autoimmune diseases

For each of these categories, the SSA documents detailed medical criteria used in evaluating whether a severe impairment.

The SSA has a different list of impairments for children. Disability claims for children follow unique procedures, as children have not yet worked to receive access to Social Security Benefits for themselves.

What Are Compassionate Allowance Conditions?

The SSA also maintains a list of specific diagnoses that almost always qualify for disability. Anyone diagnosed with one of these conditions can typically get immediate access to disability benefits once the diagnosis is documented and confirmed by the SSA, and they do not have to go through the five-month waiting period.

Just a few examples of compassionate allowance conditions include:

  • Acute leukemia
  • Child lymphoma
  • Ewing Sarcoma
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

The SSA’s list has many other conditions and constantly evolves as the SSA makes decisions about the types of diagnoses that should be on the list. Working with a lawyer experienced in disability claims can help ensure you know where your disability stands and whether you can get faster access to benefits.

Evidentiary Requirements for Social Security Disability Claims

Suppose you don’t have a diagnosis on the compassionate allowance list. In that case, applications for Social Security disability benefits come with evidentiary requirements, which means you must provide medical evidence that there’s a severe impairment beyond a simple diagnosis. That usually means providing medical records from your doctor, hospitals, clinics, or other providers. Statements from therapists might also be appropriate.

The SSA often works with you to get that medical evidence. For example, you might provide permission for the SSA to request records from your doctor.

Once the SSA determines that there is, indeed, a medical impairment, it moves on to document the severity. Severity is related to how the impairment impacts your ability to work. The SSA may look at documentation from employers, public welfare agencies, educational institutions, and your family and friends. Information from these sources can help demonstrate that you cannot work.

Get Help With the Disability Claim Process

Filing a disability claim can be a complex process. It’s full of paperwork, and to improve your chances of success, you may need to spend hours or days reading information provided by the Social Security Administration to understand what evidence you must present. Alternatively, you can hire a disability lawyer in North Carolina to help you file your claim and make your case.

Whether you have questions about your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, have an immediate need and desire to fast-track your claim, or were denied and want to appeal a claim, the Law Office of Laura S. Jenkins can help.