If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Before the Social Security Administration (SSA) agrees to give you monthly benefits, it must be determined that “there are no jobs in the U.S. economy that you can do.”
What exactly does this Social Security jargon mean, especially if the job market is strong? Let’s take a closer look at how Social Security determines whether work exists in the national economy.
According to the SSA, work exists in the U.S. economy if there is a significant number of jobs with requirements that you can meet despite your physical limitations or mental ability. Therefore, Social Security does not consider you disabled.
But, if there are specific types of jobs for which you qualify that exist “in very limited numbers” and in “relatively few locations” outside of the area in which you live, SSA does not consider these jobs as “work which exists in the national economy.” Therefore, Social Security will determine that you are disabled.
For illustration purposes, let’s say you have worked for decades on a farm and performed manual labor and managed crop production. If your work skills do not match the requirements of jobs available in the area in which you live, then work in the national economy does not exist for you, according to SSA.
Answering SSA’s Question of “Why?”
Regardless of your disability, SSA takes a “show, don’t tell” approach when it comes to disability benefits. In other words, Social Security expects you to show how your physical impairment or mental disorder prevents you from being gainfully employed in jobs for which you may be qualified. So, it is best to provide SSA with relevant evidence of all of your medical conditions, mental disorders, and physical limitations.
If you are not forthcoming with your health issues, your application for disability benefits may be denied if SSA believes that you can work with reasonable accommodations. For example, if you simply say you have a back problem without providing detailed documentation about your condition, SSA may believe an employer can accommodate you by allowing you to take breaks when your back begins to hurt.
However, providing evidence that rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative disc disease are causing your chronic back pain, and you receive frequent treatments for these incurable conditions, improves your chances of getting approved for disability benefits.
Find Your Impairment in SSA’s Blue Book
Social Security uses a manual as part of its process of establishing eligibility for disability benefits. The Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, also known as the “Blue Book,” gives insight into the type of medical conditions Social Security views as severe impairments that can prevent people from working. The extensive “Listing of Impairments” includes major parts of the body such as:
- Cardiovascular system
- Musculoskeletal system
- Digestive system
- Respiratory system
- Special sense and speech
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
Within the categorical listing of impairments are:
- Definitions of the condition
- What the SSA considers in evaluating the impairments
- The type of documentation SSA needs to determine eligibility for disability disorders
You may still qualify for disability even if your impairment is not listed in the Blue Book as long as your medical condition matches the severity of one of the impairments listed in the book.
You can strengthen your case for disability benefits by collecting evidence to support the conclusion that there is no job in the U.S. economy that you can do. Generally, the type of evidence that supports a disability claim includes medical records, a doctor’s statement about diagnosing and treating a condition, and laboratory test results or imaging scans.
Most importantly, your statement and statements from your family members about your diminished quality of life due to your disability should be included in your SSA package.
SSA may ask you to take a Consultative Medical Examination performed by an independent medical professional. Sometimes, Social Security requests an exam when there are questions about the severity of an applicant’s medical condition. If you do not take this examination when asked, SSA can make a decision without the evidence that you need to support your claim.
You Can Appeal a Social Security Denial
It is not unusual for SSA to deny claims. Fortunately, you can ask SSA to reconsider a denied application. If the claim is denied after a reconsideration, SSA has the following steps you can take to appeal denials:
- Request a hearing before a federal Administrative Law Judge
- Request SSA’s Appeals Council to review the judge’s decision
- File a civil lawsuit in a federal district court
Before taking action on our own to appeal a denial, it would be to your advantage to consult with a Social Security disability attorney.
Get Legal Help With Your SSDI Claim
Social Security typically denies claims because applicants lack proof that satisfies SSA of their disability. At Joel Thrift Law, we can help you provide evidence that can lead to a favorable decision about your disability benefits.
If SSA has denied your claim, we can review your application and file for a reconsideration. We can also represent you in the appeals process. With help from a Social Security disability attorney, you have a greater chance of getting disability benefits.
The Social Security disability process is time sensitive and you only have a limited amount of time to appeal a denial. So, contact Joel Thrift Law today to schedule a consultation.