We help the disabled and injured obtain the benefits they need.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) and long-term disability insurance companies evaluate disability by looking at an individual’s limitations based on all of his or her impairments. As a result, people with many different impairments, even some that may not often be thought of as “disabling,” when combined with other problems, may qualify for benefits. These benefits may include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and/or disability benefits through a long-term disability insurance policy.
Example Qualifying Conditions for Disability
Some examples of people with qualifying medical or mental health conditions for social security or long term disability insurance benefits include:
A 50-year-old who has performed physical work for the past fifteen years and can no longer stand and walk for extended periods due to severe back pain;
31-year-old suffering from severe depression and anxiety, which prevents the individual from reliably showing up to work, instead missing work three or four times a month;
A 44-year-old with multiple sclerosis, who is unable to maintain focus on any task for more than thirty minutes at a time as a result of her symptoms;
A 38-year-old with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, who has to lie down for up to two hours each day.
This is just a sampling of some of the kinds of problems that may lead to eligibility for disability benefits.
Does ____ Qualify for Disability?
Some of the other impairments our successful clients have struggled with over the years are highlighted below. We’ve provided links to information on some of these problems:
While these problems are not all strictly “musculoskeletal” disorders, they impact the abilities to stand and walk; sit comfortably; lift and carry significant weight; and reach, finger, feel, and grasp. Additionally, like some of the other health problems discussed below, the impact of pain from these disorders can stop an individual from persisting in a work environment, even if he or she is physically capable of performing a particular task.
- Arthritis and related disorders
- Osteoarthritis or Oseoarthrosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Degenerative Joint Disease
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Degenerative Disc Disease (including herniated, ruptured, and bulging discs)
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Fibromyalgia (FMS)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: This condition can be disabling if the resulting symptoms impact the abilities to use the hands and fingers to type, grasp, and perform common desk or bench tasks. Additionally, the pain and discomfort that often accompanies this diagnosis can prevent a worker from being able to stay “on task” throughout a full eight-hour workday. If these symptoms are significant enough, this diagnosis can cause disability.
We have worked with clients with this somewhat rare disorder. In one case, we helped a woman with electrodiagnostic evidence (EMG / Nerve conduction testing) of this disorder obtain benefits. She suffered from severe shoulder and upper back pain. Additionally, the impairment caused functional loss of feeling and strength in her fingers, which eliminated any job requiring frequent use of her hands. More information on Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be found here.
- Brachial Plexus Neuropathy
- Tendonitis Bursistus
- Myofacial Plain Syndrome
- Chronic Pain Syndrome of the neck, back, and/or extremities
- Internal Derangement, Shoulder
- Impingement Syndrome, Shoulder
- Torn Rotator Cuff, Shoulder
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can cause shooting pain, numbness, and loss of motion in the feet. Like any lower extremity impairment, this can be a significant factor impacting the ability to work. While this impairment may not render someone totally incapable of work, if an individual over 50 years old suffers from significant TTS, has a work history of jobs requiring substantial standing and walking, and would not have skills that would allow for an adjustment to a sit-down job, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can be a disability.
- Severe Sprains and Strains
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Lumbar Radiculopathy
- Connective Tissue Disorders
- Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
Psychiatric (Mental Health) Disorders
Just like medical conditions, psychiatric disorders can prevent individuals from working by impacting reliability on the job; impairing an individual’s ability to drive or take public transportation; maintain attention and concentration; deal with the public, supervisors, and co-workers, and cause many other limitations.
- Major Depression
- Bipolar Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Panic Disorders
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Intracranial Disease (including brain tumor, cerebral vascular disease/stroke, cerebral infections)
- Spinal Cord Disease
- Peripheral Nerve Disease
- Neurologic Manifestations, including chronic pain, headache, seizures, tremors, vertigo
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Hepatic and Biliary Disorders
Like the cardiac and pulmonary conditions discussed below, these diseases can cause significant fatigue. Fatigue can debilitate an individual, leaving him or her unable to function in any full-time work environment.
- Coronary Artery Disease, including Angina Pectoris and Myocardial Infarction
- Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Myocardial Disease
- Venous Thrombosis (DVT / Pulmonary Embolism)
- Pulmonary Edema
- Peripheral Vascular Disorders
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and colitis can qualify for Social Security disability programs when the symptoms are not well-controlled. It doesn’t matter what kind of work an individual performs. If gastrointestinal symptoms require the worker to be off-task more than can be accommodated by normal breaks, or as is frequently the case, off-task on an urgent and unpredictable basis, even if they are otherwise productive, they may not be able to sustain competitive work and would qualify for disability benefits.
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Fecal incontinence
- Migraine headaches
- Morbid obesity
How Do I Know If I Qualify for Disability Benefits?
For SSDI benefits, you must have paid Social Security taxes through your job and earned work credits. The specific number of credits that you need is based on your age at the time that you file a disability claim. You must then have a medical or mental health condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability.
Importantly, you do not need work credits to qualify for SSI benefits. However, you will have to demonstrate that you are low-income and otherwise qualify for SSI.
To be eligible for long-term disability benefits, you must have an insurance policy that provides this type of monthly benefit. You can then submit a disability claim after a waiting period (usually 60 to 180 days) after you become disabled. A skilled disability benefits attorney can work with you to help you determine if you qualify for Social Security disability or another type of disability payment, and help you through the application process.
What Conditions Automatically Qualify for Disability?
The SSA maintains a listing of impairments, which are medical and mental health conditions that are considered severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. Even if you have one of these conditions, however, you will still need to show (via evidence such as medical records) that you meet the criteria in the listing.
The listing of impairments is used as part of the five-step sequential evaluation process. Among other factors, the SSA will determine (1) if you can still work or perform substantial gainful activity; (2) if your condition is severe and has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or longer or be terminal; (3) if your condition meets or equals a condition on the listing of impairments; (4) if not, whether you can do the type of work that you previously performed; and (5)if you cannot perform your past work, whether you can perform any work.
Can My Doctor Put Me on Disability?
Whether you are filing for disability benefits from the SSA or through your insurance company, you will need to provide objective medical evidence of a disabling condition as part of your disability application. These records should be obtained from a licensed medical doctor or psychologist. While records and a statement from your healthcare provider are vital to qualifying for benefits, your doctor cannot put you on disability benefits.
Instead, you will need to file an application for benefits with the SSA and/or your insurer. An experienced New Jersey disability benefits lawyer can help you with this process, starting with a free claim review. From there, your attorney will help you gather documentation, file an application, and represent you at any hearings and/or through the appeals process.