In part 1, we talked about rules regarding the timing of your disability filing and how long you have to demonstrate your impairments have lasted to qualify for disability. Today, we will talk about the medical stuff.
What medical impairment(s) will have a chance at winning disability.
Part of my daily duties is answering calls from prospective clients who are wondering if their medical condition qualifies them for disability. While a list of disabilities does exist and can be very helpful, it is a bit convoluted to understand it (I promise I will talk about that at another future post).
To help you understand if your impairment qualifies you for disability I am listing below an easy “rule of thumb” you can use to see if you qualify for disability with your particular impairments.
How Many Impairments Should You List?
A lot of people think they can only qualify for one impairment. If you have more than one Impairment, list it!! (See why below).
Others want to list the sun and the moon as their impairments (nothing wrong with that but an ingrown toenail will not impress anyone even though it’s very annoying to live with it-trust me, I know!).
If you are not careful about the amount of diagnosis listed, it may look like you are shooting in every direction to see what sticks. Some may even come across as “proud” of their impairments.
Be wise! No one likes a “pity party”.
I know it’s a harsh thing to say but I have seen people do it (fainting spells, limping from the wrong leg) and it looks pretty bad. Just know that these claimants will eventually get caught. Don’t be one of them!
So what medical conditions should you list as your disability impairments?
As a rule, you are required to list every medical condition you have. While the “little ones” (ingrown toenail and other minor stuff) are listed in your medical records and the decision maker will see them, you really want to list “the big ones”.
What are considered big impairments?
These are the major medical conditions that prevent you from working. Think about them this way: If most people with a medical condition similar to yours can’t work, you probably can’t either.
What are the examples of the “big ones”?
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A broken spine, a double amputation, rheumatoid arthritis, a severe case of fibromyalgia, blindness, etc.
The list is enormous but you get the idea.
You do not want to list an ingrown toenail or something that can be resolved or controlled by medication and that are temporary in nature.
Also, while you should list diabetes, thyroid problems and these can be disabling sometimes, if they are under control, don’t expect to win a disability case on these alone.
The idea is that either singly (for one big impairment) or in combination (for a collection of smaller impairments) these impairments prevent you from working.
What is the difference between a single impairment versus a combination of impairments?
Both terms are pretty obvious but there is a special distinction:
Single impairment, of course, relates to an impairment that ALONE prevents you from working.
One good example of that is a person with a broken spine: That person doesn’t have any other medical conditions other than the “big one” and maybe some little ones. Eg. Broken spine (big one) plus ingrown toenail, rhinitis and seasonal allergies (little ones).
A combination case is one that, obviously, has a combination of smaller impairments that TOGETHER prevent you from working.
For example, the person has 1) Scoliosis (not so severe but the back hurts), 2) Diabetes 2 uncontrolled (requiring insulin) with mild neuropathy on the feet (a couple of toes are numb) and 3) morbid obesity (due to lack of exercise and insulin side effects).
In this example, the person could qualify for disability because: 1) the back pain is bad due to the obesity. 2) the person is obese because he or she can’t exercise. 3) the person can’t exercise because of the back pain and the neuropathy on the feet.
So the combination of all these “smaller” conditions prevent the person from getting better and therefore, unable to work.
Uh! I’m dizzy just typing this. But you get the idea.
You may be wondering: “You just told me not to list small stuff and now you’re telling me to list smaller stuff”.
You’re right, I did.
There is a difference in this smaller stuff I’m telling you to list and small stuff that is not that important to list:
Ask yourself: “If each of these individual conditions were “bigger” in severity on their own, would they be considered impairments I should list? The answer is: YES!!
Going back to the ingrown toenail example: “will an ingrown toenail EVER be a big one?” The answer is no!
Well, if you don’t treat it, sure. But you’re obviously not going to allow that to happen. Also, even if you have one toe amputated because of an infection you may still be able to work. People do it all the time.
Ok, I will give you another example: Rhinitis: “will it ever, by itself, become a big one?” No!
Now, diabetes type 2 uncontrolled enough that even an insulin pump is not doing the job? Hot diggity, YES!!
Why? Because if you or your doctors cannot control it, it WILL become a major problem. If your diabetes remains uncontrolled you can develop foot neuropathy. Or you can develop sores and you risk foot amputation.
Your condition(s) can go from a “smaller” problem to a major BIG problem.
See the difference now?
In the next post, we will continue to discuss medical impairments. Actually, we will talk about mental impairments. Check it out here!
PS: While this post is mostly about Social Security Disability, the rules could be used when applying for Short/Long Term Disability.
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Until next time,