Social Security Disability: Getting Approved for Hard-To-Prove Disabilities

hard-to-prove disabilities

The application process for Social Security disability can be lengthy and complicated, especially for those affected with hard-to-prove disabilities or which may appear invisible to others. While some conditions are more readily approved by the Social Security Administration, mental conditions, chronic pain and other health issues may require additional attention for claim approval. We’ll explain how the SSA views these hard-to-prove disabilities during the claims evaluation process below.

Definition of Disability

If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits, you must be aware of what the SSA defines as a disability. The Social Security Administration defines disability as an inability to work and is based on three qualifications: that a person can no longer do the work they could before, a person cannot reasonably adjust to do other work because of a medical condition or a disability that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

How the SSA Approves Hard-to-Prove Disabilities

It is up to an SSA judge to determine whether or not a person will receive Social Security Disability benefits based on their disability. In order to decide if a person is disabled, the SSA has a series of five questions:

1. Are You Working?

The SSA asks current income levels as a qualification for being disabled. A person who is able to work and earns more than $1,074 per month is generally considered not disabled.

2. Is Your Condition Severe?

Only claims that show a person’s condition interferes with basic work-related activities are considered. If basic functions are able to be completed, a claim will most likely not be considered.

3. List of Disabled Conditions

The SSA has a list of common medical conditions that are considered a disability. While many conditions are considered severe enough to automatically qualify, hard-to-prove disabilities can be more difficult to get approval. If a condition is already listed, it may be easier to get approval.

4. Can You Do the Previous Work?

While some disabilities may prohibit certain actions, a person is not considered disabled if they are able to continue completing the work they were doing previously. If a condition interferes with the previous work functions, a claim might be considered disabled.

5. Can You Do Other Work?

If a person can still find other work by doing basic functions, they will probably not be considered disabled. However, if a condition doesn’t allow for a person to complete other job functions, a claim will likely be approved.

Hard-to-Prove Disabilities

While some conditions may qualify someone right away for Social Security disability benefits, other hard-to-prove disabilities may lead to a lengthy approval process. In some cases, it might be clear that a person can no longer perform job functions due to a physical condition. However, other non-exertional limitations including mental health issues can require more work and time for approval.

Because there are few tests that can evaluate the severity of a person’s mental disability, the SSA often relies on a criteria of physician records, feedback from family and friends and a record of activities of daily living. Some of these conditions include schizophrenia, autistic disorders, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Those who experience memory loss may also be considered for approval. If records for ongoing mental symptoms cannot indicate whether a person’s condition is severe enough to be considered a disability, a person may be sent for a medical exam for evaluation.

When applying for disability claims that are not listed among conditions that are automatically approved by the SSA, the residual functional capacity (RFC) exam that determines a person’s ability to work is the most important determining factor. This includes physical and mental limitations as well as the severity of the condition.

If you suffer from one or more hard-to-prove disabilities and are considering filing for Social Security disability benefits, having an experienced disability advocate on your side may be beneficial.

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