When it comes to a Social Security disability claim, the Social Security Administration takes an all-or-nothing approach. That is to say, only claimants who meet their strict definition of disability will qualify. Although individuals with a partial or short-term disability may qualify under other programs, such as private disability insurance or workers’ compensation, they generally cannot receive SSDI benefits.
The distinction between short- and long-term disabilities is relatively straightforward, set at a one-year threshold (or death) for Social Security disability. However, SSA’s process of determining whether a physical or mental impairment qualifies for benefits is less clear-cut. According to the SSA’s website, Social Security defines disability based upon an individual’s inability to work. That definition is strict. In addition to being unable to work at a previous job, in most cases a claimant must prove that their medical condition makes it impossible to adjust to other work, as well. The SSA maintains a list of disabling conditions that are so severe that they might satisfy the agency’s legal definition of disability. Yet conditions not on that list may also prevent an individual from working. Although the SSA’s functional approach to disability should allow workers with other severe impairments or a combination of disabilities to qualify for SSDI benefits, the low approval rates for SSDI applicants suggests otherwise.
Although every Social Security disability applicant might benefit from a disability attorney’s help, this is especially true for individuals with a condition not on the SSA’s listing of impairments. An attorney knows how strategically important it will be to have a doctor support the application for benefits, including the doctor’s opinion about whether an individual should continue working.
American culture seems to discourage people from being honest about the true severity of their conditions. Although that approach may be successful in social settings, it could be a fatal mistake in the SSDI claims process. In order to present the strongest possible claim, an SSDI applicant needs to be honest with his or her doctor about all symptoms and limitations that he or she is experiencing. In fact, we recommend that an individual take a list of symptoms and functional limitations to each doctor’s office visit. Such documentation could literally make the difference between a successful or denied application.
Our law firm focuses exclusively on Social Security disability law. To learn more about the SSDI and SSI programs and how our disability lawyers can improve your chance for success, contact the Jenkintown and Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorneys of the Disability and Injury Law Offices of David R. Machek for a free consultation at: (215) 886-0398 or at: http://www.disabilitylawpa.com Email: [email protected]