woman with a physical impairment in fort worth/dallas texas and is applying for social security disability
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By Carey Thompson
Founding Attorney

Social Security disability benefits are a lifeline for many individuals who cannot work due to significant physical impairments. These benefits are governed by specific criteria set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It’s crucial to understand which physical conditions qualify an individual for such assistance. A comprehensive list of these impairments can provide clarity to potential applicants, ensuring they’re well-informed before starting the application process.

The Role of the SSA Blue Book

The Social Security Administration Blue Book serves as the primary reference for determining disability eligibility. It contains an extensive list of physical and mental impairments that are recognized by the SSA as disabling conditions. Each entry in the Blue Book details the criteria required for a condition to be deemed disabling. This guideline ensures consistency in decisions across applications and aids medical professionals in providing the necessary documentation to support a disability claim. By consulting the Blue Book, claimants can gain a clearer understanding of how their conditions might be evaluated.

Even with a condition listed in the Blue Book, approval isn’t automatic. The SSA evaluates not only the presence of the condition but also its severity and the extent to which it impedes the applicant’s ability to work. Documentation demonstrating how the condition has rendered the individual incapable of sustaining meaningful employment is essential. Conversely, if an individual’s condition isn’t explicitly listed in the Blue Book, it doesn’t preclude eligibility. In such instances, the SSA will determine if the condition is medically or functionally equivalent to a listed impairment. Therefore, even without a direct match in the Blue Book, one could still qualify for benefits based on the severity and impact of their ailment.

Common Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders encompass a range of conditions affecting the body’s muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Common examples include spinal disorders, such as herniated discs and degenerative disc disease, which can cause chronic pain and mobility issues. Major joint dysfunctions, like those found in the hips or knees, can severely limit an individual’s ability to move or perform daily tasks. Additionally, conditions like scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine, can lead to significant physical impairments. These disorders often result from wear and tear, injury, or genetic predisposition, impacting daily life and potentially qualifying individuals for disability benefits.

Cardiovascular Conditions

Cardiovascular conditions pertain to diseases and disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels. Chronic heart failure, for instance, occurs when the heart can’t pump blood as efficiently as it should, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath, and other complications. Recurrent arrhythmias involve irregular heart rhythms that can result in dizziness, chest pain, or even cardiac arrest. Coronary artery disease, another prevalent condition, arises when the major blood vessels supplying the heart get damaged or diseased, often due to plaque buildup. These conditions not only pose significant health risks but can also severely impact an individual’s quality of life and ability to work.

Respiratory Illnesses

Respiratory illnesses affect the organs and structures responsible for breathing, primarily the lungs and airways. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive lung disease, leads to breathing difficulties as airways become narrowed and damaged. Asthma, another common respiratory ailment, causes episodes of wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath due to inflamed airways. Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder, results in thick and sticky mucus production that can clog the lungs, leading to severe respiratory and digestive problems. These conditions can greatly hinder daily activities, making it challenging for individuals to engage in regular tasks and, in severe cases, necessitating continuous medical care.

Digestive System Disorders

Digestive system disorders encompass a range of conditions that affect the stomach, intestines, and other components of the digestive tract. Liver disease, which includes conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis, impacts the body’s ability to process nutrients, filter blood, and produce bile. Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Additionally, gastrointestinal hemorrhaging can result from ulcers or other conditions, causing internal bleeding within the digestive system. These disorders can significantly disrupt an individual’s daily life and overall well-being.

Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders are conditions that affect the central and peripheral nervous systems, encompassing the brain, spinal cord, and neural pathways. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic illness where the immune system mistakenly targets the protective sheath of nerve fibers, leading to communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Parkinson’s disease, another well-known disorder, is characterized by progressive nerve cell damage, resulting in tremors, stiffness, and movement difficulties. Seizure disorders, including epilepsy, manifest as sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain, causing periods of altered behavior or consciousness. These neurological conditions can profoundly impact an individual’s ability to function normally and maintain an independent lifestyle.

Other Notable Conditions

Apart from the aforementioned categories, several other conditions can have debilitating effects on individuals. Kidney disease, for instance, can impede the body’s ability to filter waste and excess fluids, leading to various complications. Cancer, in its many forms, can compromise physical well-being, require aggressive treatments, and limit daily activities. Burns or severe skin disorders, such as psoriasis or severe eczema, can cause significant discomfort, pain, or disfigurement. These conditions, while diverse in nature, can profoundly influence an individual’s quality of life and capacity to work.

Consider Legal Help If You Are Applying For Disability Benefits

A social security disability attorney brings the skills and experience to guide applicants through the complex social security disability process, increasing the chances of a successful claim. They can ensure that all documentation is correctly presented and that the full impact of a disability is adequately represented. If you’re facing uncertainties or challenges with your social security disability application, we strongly encourage you to reach out to the Law Office of Carey Thompson for dedicated assistance and advocacy.

About the Author
Carey Thompson has been practicing Social Security Disability Law Since 2008 after he graduated from Texas Wesleyan School of Law, now known as Texas A&M school of Law in Fort Worth, TX.  While at Texas Wesleyan he served on Law Review.  Prior to going to Law School, Mr. Thompson was a High School Band Director for four years using his degree in Music Education from Michigan State University.  Prior to Attending Michigan State, he attended Aledo Schools from Kindergarten to graduate.  Mr.Thompson feels strongly about serving the people of Tarrant County.