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What if your disability is not in the SSA's 'Blue Book'?

A serious illness or injury can cause anyone in Philadelphia to experience a significant amount of stress about their future. How long will the illness or injury keep them from working? How will they support themselves in the meantime? And, what happens if they can never return to work due to their illness or injury?

When this happens, one may wonder if their illness or injury will qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has a publication called the "blue book" that lists what types of medical impairments will qualify an individual for SSD benefits, providing all other requirements are met.

These impairments fall under a number of categories. There are musculoskeletal problems, sensory issues, respiratory conditions, cardiovascular conditions, digestive tract issues, neurological conditions, blood disorders, mental illnesses and immune system conditions, among others

But, what happens if your illness or injury doesn't fall under one of these categories? Can you still seek SSD benefits? The answer is: it depends. First of all, your illness or injury must be one that is supported by clinical reports, meaning it has been tested. Second, the applicant's residual functional capacity has to be limited due to their illness or injury. This is determined by examining the level of activity and exertion you are still able to engage in despite your injury or illness. Residual functional capacity also examines other types of limitations, such as the individual's mental capabilities. The disability claims examiner will assess the applicant's medical history, medical evidence such as physician exams, test results and health records, and the applicant's residual functional capacity to determine if the applicant qualifies for benefits.

SSD benefits can be an essential component of making ends meet financially if you are disabled. Qualifying for benefits is not always easy, and oftentimes an individual's initial application is denied, necessitating an appeal. However, with the right help, it may be possible for an individual's application to be approved, qualifying them for the benefits they need.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Conditions that Qualify You for Disability Claims," accessed May 2, 2016

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee