If you have a physical impairment and are unable to work, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, obtaining these vital public benefits is difficult, partly because the eligibility requirements for physical impairments are strict — the majority of initial claims are denied. The best way to secure the benefits you deserve is to consult with an experienced disability lawyer.
At Disability Attorneys of Arizona, our practice is focused on advocating for disabled individuals and their loved ones. Well-versed in the Social Security Administration’s listing of qualifying physical impairments, we can help you navigate all aspects of the benefits claims process, from submitting the initial application to filing disability appeals and attending disability hearings.
Because we understand the physical, emotional and financial challenges facing you, your initial consultation will be free and you will not pay any attorneys’ fees until we win benefits for you. Please contact our Phoenix office today to speak with one of our experienced Arizona disability lawyers.
What is a Physical Impairment?
In order to qualify for disability benefits you must have a physical impairment that prevents you from performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA), as that term is defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
In addition, disability examiners rely on the SSA’s listing of physical impairments, known as the Blue Book, when making disability determinations. The listing covers specific body systems and their related impairments.
- Musculoskeletal — back, joint and muscle injuries
- Cardiovascular — congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and atherosclerosis
- Senses and speech — hearing or vision loss
- Respiratory — COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis or lung cancer
- Digestive — liver disease, ulcerative colitis, or inflammatory bowel disease
- Kidney and genitourinary – kidney failure, chronic renal failure, organ damage due to diabetes or other medical condition, kidney cancer, and bladder cancer
- Neurological — cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy
- Endocrine — Type-1 diabetes, Type-2 diabetes, or thyroid cancer
- Immune — HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Skin — skin cancers, dermatitis
- Hematological (blood ) — hemolytic anemias, bone marrow failure
- Cancer — certain advanced and metastatic cancers
At Disability Attorneys of Arizona, we have the skills and resources to get you the benefits you deserve, regardless of whether your condition is included in Social Security’s listing of qualifying physical impairments. You should know that you may still be eligible for disability benefits even if your condition is not listed, as long as SSA determines it is severe as a listed impairment.
SSA Guidelines for Disability Benefits and Physical Impairments
In addition to relying on the Blue Book, disability examiners consider a number of factors in making disability determinations. First, your physical impairment must be a medical condition that can be diagnosed and described by doctors. The SSA refers to this as “medically determinable.”
To prove that your condition is medically determinable, your benefits claim must include records and statements from your treating physician describing the impairment and how those limitations prevent you from working. In sum, it is necessary to show that your medical condition has lasted at least 12 months or is expected to result in your death.
Further, the SSA will determine whether the physical impairment prevents you from doing the work you did at the time you became disabled. If not, the SSA will then consider whether you are capable of performing another type of substantial gainful work. Factors included in this determination are your age, education, training and work experience and whether it is likely that you will be able to learn new skills to perform other work.
Ultimately, your benefits claim hinges on the following five questions:
- Are you currently working? Although you are allowed to work at the time you apply for benefits, your monthly earnings cannot exceed $1,260 (this amount is adjusted annually). The SSA considers monthly income higher than this amount to be substantial gainful activity.
- Is your condition severe? The condition must be severe enough to significantly interfere with basic work-related activities.
- Is your disability included in the SSA’s Blue Book? If your condition is on the list of impairments, you automatically qualify; otherwise your condition must be medically equivalent to a listed condition.
- Can you do the same work you did before becoming disabled? If your condition does not interfere with your ability to do the work you did previously, your claim will be denied.
- Can you do any other type of work? The SSA will determine if you are able to do less physically demanding work if you cannot do the work you did previously.
Despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of initial claims are denied, working with an experienced disability attorney increases the likelihood of obtaining these vital disability benefits.
Contact Disability Attorneys of Arizona Today
If you need assistance applying for disability benefits, or your claim has already been denied, we can help. Our legal team will offer you knowledge, compassion and professional service. Above all, we will always put your best interest first and fight tirelessly to win you the benefits you deserve. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.