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How Do You Qualify Medically for Social Security Disability or SSI?

While the whole Social Security process might be confusing and might even feel like sending a message in a bottle for help, there are actually steps and checks in place to help individuals qualify for disability benefits. After you submit your application, the social security office makes sure that you financially qualify for social security benefits; then, they send your application to the Disability Determination Services (DDS), which decides whether your disability meets the requirements to receive benefits.

But how do you medically qualify for SSI? Here’s what you need to know about this aspect of the process.


Determining the Severity of Your Impairment

In order for the DDS to determine the severity of your disability, they must see whether it meets the criteria of a social security disability “listing.” But just what is a disability listing?

The Social Security Administration and the DDS have a book known as the “Blue Book” that lists what’s approved when it comes to impairments. If you have a heart condition, the DDS employee who reviews such cases will check to see if it qualifies according to what’s in the Blue Book.


Disabilities that Aren’t in the Blue Book

One thing to note: Not every disability is in the Blue Book. Some impairments that are not in the book are Fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), adult diabetes, and carpal tunnel syndrome. But just because an impairment isn’t in the book doesn’t mean that you can’t qualify for benefits. If your disability isn’t in the Blue Book, you can juxtapose your symptoms against another approved disability to see if you qualify for the benefits. This applies for both adult and child disabilities. You just have to prove that your symptoms are functionally equivalent to a disability in the book.


Medical Vocational Allowance

Okay, but what if you can’t connect your symptoms to the ones in the book? If you’re an adult and can’t prove that your symptoms are functionally equivalent, you can get a med-voc allowance, which stands for medical vocational allowance, which is how people receive approval for SSI benefits.

How a med-voc works is that DDS examines your medical records and history and puts together an RFC (residual functional capacity) assessment. This assessment will give a rundown of your physical limitations (whether you can move your wrist, bend down to pick up something, etc.). The RFC will put you in a category according to how much work you can exert: sedentary, light, or medium.

After the RFC, the DDS will figure out whether your previous job matches your assessment, meaning that if your previous position at a company required medium work and you’re only able to do light work, then you won’t be able to return to that role. Most people who apply for disability are not able to return to their previous job.

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Grid Rules

Medical Vocational Allowance guidelines are also known as grids or grid rules. Some grids will automatically deem someone disabled based on age and their position. However, if the grids are “silent,” then the DDS examiner will try to figure out whether there’s other work a person can do. A good example of this would be a mechanic who exerts a medium work level. Once this person becomes impaired, the DDS examiner will try to find something similar in the mechanic or automotive field that requires a light work level.

Sometimes the grids will deem a person not disabled. When this is the case, the person will have to demonstrate why the grids or guidelines don’t apply to their specific situation. One thing to note is that people in their 50s and up are more likely to be approved.


The Blue Book Process for Mental Impairment

When it comes to mental impairment, the process of matching disability criteria in the Blue Book is similar, only with mental disabilities. Some examples might include depression and anxiety. When someone is incapable of doing SRRTs (simple routine repetitive tasks) because of their mental disability, then the DDS will be challenged in finding that person work. In this case, the individual might want to see a psychiatrist or therapist in order to get their disability case approved.


More Information

Are you in need of someone to help you through the SSDI benefits process? Are you trying to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or an injury or illness? Then contact Lowery Law Group at info@lowerylegal.com or call (843) 991-0733. There is no fee for a free consultation regarding your claim. Lowery Law Group is experienced in handling cases in South Carolina as well as Georgia.