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What Qualifies as a Disability?

Many people want to know if their illness or impairment qualifies as a disability. In almost every case, no matter what the disease or impairment is, the answer is the same - "Maybe." A more in-depth answer would indicate that it really depends upon how badly an individual is affected by the disease or impairment. Let's take cancer, for example. There are many cancers that can be treated and cured very quickly, often resulting in little or no lasting effect. In the same aspect, however, there are many forms of cancers that result in great suffering and possibly even death. The question in each individual case is "How sick is this particular individual with cancer and how long is this person going to remain sick?" Headaches are another example. The vast majority of headaches, while troublesome and annoying, would not be considered to be disabling. On the other hand, there are some individuals that suffer from daily headaches and migraines, which can be disabling. So, while a common headache, which is not rare, may not be disabling, an extreme case of constant headaches and migraine can be considered disabling. The fact that an individual has a disease with a certain name does not guarantee that the individual either will or will not be found disabled. It all depends upon how sick the individual is.


Keep in mind that Social Security is supposed to consider the combination of impairments that an individual suffers when determining disability. Many of our clients have more than one health problem and it is the combination of their health problems that lead to their disability. It is important to also keep in mind that an individual has to have been disabled for at least a year or be expected to be disabled for at least a year or have a condition that can be expected to result in death within a year for their condition to be considered a disability, and their disability to be awarded. Essentially, an individual may apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits the day their disability begins--they needn't wait an entire year before doing so, so long as the disability can be expected to last at least a year.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave us a comment and let us know!

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