Social Security Disability, intended to help those who find it hard or even physically impossible to support their households through employment due to injury or disease, can be difficult to gain access to.
On average, 55% of applicants are ultimately rejected. It can take nearly two years just to get a hearing.
Many of those with “invisible” disabilities — that is, disabling illnesses or injuries that are not immediately visible or apparent — find it even more strenuous and frustrating a process.
Having an “invisible” disability doesn’t mean you can’t still get access to the Social Security Disability benefits that will allow you to maintain your quality of life. Today, we’ll take a look at these sometimes hard-to-prove disabilities and what you can do to fight for your individual rights when applying for SSD.
Invisible disabilities are not readily apparent to the naked eye and are often neurological in nature, though not always. A person with early-stage Multiple Sclerosis may not require a wheelchair and a person suffering from lupus may appear perfectly energetic on occasion and therefore seem “fine”. Nonetheless, these diseases are real and account for thousands of SSD applicants each year.
Conditions that can cause invisible disabilities include, but are not limited to:
A more complete list of invisible disabilities can be found here. People suffering from these syndromes, diseases, or injuries often face an impossible situation: their disability is ignored or denied by medical professionals or by the Social Security Administration, but is severe enough that they are unable to work and therefore struggle to pay medical bills and make ends meet.
After an initial denial, you may find yourself wondering, can you receive Social Security Disability for invisible disabilities?
If your application for Social Security Disability benefits was denied, don’t give up! Speak with a legal representative dedicated to helping you protect your individual rights.
Largely, through tenacity.
The Social Security Administration recently began to enforce a change to its operating guidelines. These new guidelines state that an applicant’s personal physician’s account is no longer given priority over a short-term meeting with an SSA -affiliated medical examiner who doesn’t know the patient’s history. The exam may simply not be thorough enough to help the medical examiner understand a disability that is not physically or visibly “obvious”.
For many of those who are applying for disability for invisible disabilities, this is an exhausting and frustrating process. Applicants have often already spent months or even years in their search for a personal physician who can correctly diagnose and treat their disability.
If you’ve been dealing with an invisible disability, odds are good you have plenty of documentation from various doctors’ visits, possible ER visits, follow-up appointments, prescriptions, and may also have supporting documentation from friends, family, or your prior workplace.
Gather all the supporting documents, medical and personal, together and use them to create a timeline: initial doctors’ visits and follow-ups, ER visits, prescriptions, documents from your previous place of employment, supporting statements from spouses or other caretakers, etc.
Take a blank piece of paper and note, using dates, the total timeline of your fight to seek proper recognition for your disability. Use this as the “cover” for your documentation, so that the medical examiner and your legal representative can look at a glance and see the time you’ve spent in treatment, how your disability has affected your daily life, and why SSD benefits may be essential for you to continue your quality of life.
Bring these to your legal consultation. The clearer the timeline of events, the quicker the legal representative will be able to see the bigger picture of your disability and its impact — and the better they’ll be able to make the case for you at your SSD hearing.
For more on SSD hearings, you can read our blog here on the kinds of questions a judge is likely to ask you and how to prepare.
That initial denial doesn’t have to be the end of the line. BNTD Law has experience with Social Security Disability and we’re here to help with navigating the complexities of the appeals process, whether or not you can continue to work while receiving Social Security Disability, and we’ll help you stay up to date as the Social Security Administration continues to undergo significant changes to its operations. Request your free consultation by phone at (803) 779-7599 or contact us online at any time.