What are my Chances of Qualifying for SSDI?
"I have advanced aids and depression, although not clinically diagnosed. what are my chances of qualifying for my disability? Also, my doctor has recently stated that i have the beginning stages of emphysema. I am scheduled for a mental exam for SSDI"
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Regarding the chances of qualifying for disability, it's not really possible to answer the question on the basis of an individual having a specific impairment. Social security looks at the extent to which the impairment limits your functional ability. This becomes a rating, something known as a residual functional capacity rating and it is used to determine whether or not you can return to your past work (because your past jobs and their functional capacity requirements will have become identified by the disability examiner) or perform some type of other work for which you might be suited based on your medical vocational profile (your functional capacity, age, education, and work skills).
There are listed impairments that are included in the blue book (the social security list of impairments) and an individual can qualify for disability benefits on the basis of meeting this type of disability criteria. However, the requirements tend to be very specific and for each listed impairment the criteria has been devised so that it reflects a functional incapacity to engage in work activity--either your past work or some type of other work--at what is known as the SGA, or substantial gainful activity level.
The disability evaluation process really comes down to function: what you can still do, and, conversely, what you are unable to do. How is your function rated? The disability examiner (or judge if the case is at the hearing level) will read your medical records to look for evidence pointing to limitations and a rating will be given. Typically, this rating must be agreed to by the examiner's unit medical consultant, who is an M.D., and/or by the examiner's unit mental consultant if the impairment is psychological or psychiatric in nature.
Of course, this is why it is best to have medical records in which your treating physician has indicated your limitations. Unfortunately, most doctors do not spend much time doing this. And, it is for this very reason that disability representatives (your rep can be a lawyer or a non-attorney) who know what they're doing will attempt to get a completed statement from a claimant's treating physician. By this I don't mean a short 3-sentence statement or a personal letter, but, rather, a detailed and definitive statement regarding your functional capacity.
This would be done on something referred to as a medical source statement, or a residual functional capacity form and it might, among other things, ask your treating physician to identify your diagnosis (or diagnoses if there are multiple impairments), your symptoms, to identify positive objective signs (such as reduced range of motion, crepitus, reduced grip strength, abnormal gait, etc.), and comment on your ability to sit, stand, lift, and engage in certain types of movement.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
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