Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments

Social Security Attorney Serving Individuals in Marin County

Determining whether a condition qualifies as a disability that makes a person eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can sometimes be difficult. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses an impairment listing manual, referred to as the blue book, there are other disabling conditions that may qualify but are not explicitly listed. I am John Stanko, a lawyer who assists claimants with Social Security appeals throughout Marin County, elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, and throughout Northern California. I am dedicated to helping people pursue the financial assistance that they deserve, and I openly communicate with my clients throughout the process so that they know the status of their claim at every step of the way.

Qualifying Disabilities and Impairments

The SSA’s blue book contains descriptions of various impairments, mental as well as physical. A person will be deemed eligible for SSD benefits if he or she can establish that his or her condition meets or is equivalent to specified requirements. Some of these conditions include:

  • Musculoskeletal issues, such as a back injury;
  • Senses and speech problems, such as blindness or deafness;
  • Respiratory ailments, such as asthma;
  • Cardiovascular conditions, such as chronic heart disease;
  • Neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy;
  • Mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia; and
  • Cancer.

However, an applicant’s condition does not have to match one of those listed in the blue book. An individual can be awarded benefits if the SSA determines that his or her condition is medically equivalent to a listing, referred to as “equaling a disability listing.” To qualify for SSD benefits using this path, an applicant must show that the condition has rendered him or her unable to work for a period of 12 months or more. The disability does not have to be permanent, and an applicant can receive support for a temporary substantial disability. However, most applications are initially denied, and an appeal is often necessary.

Several stages of appeals are available to applicants whose initial claim for benefits is denied. The first appeal is called a request for a reconsideration, which involves a review of your application by a different claims examiner to see if there was an error. If that appeal is unsuccessful, a claimant may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This decision-maker will independently examine the medical evidence in your case, as well as testimony from medical and vocational expert witnesses, to determine whether you are entitled to benefits. If your pursuit of SSD is again denied at that stage, you can still take further action by appealing the ALJ’s decision to the Social Security Appeals Council and ultimately even file a complaint in federal court.

Legal Guidance for San Francisco Residents Seeking Government Benefits

If you have been denied government benefits in the San Francisco Bay Area, an SSD attorney can help you develop a persuasive case for why that decision should be reversed on appeal. I am familiar with this process, and I can help you gather useful evidence and make sure the full extent of your disability is conveyed. I represent individuals from Marin County communities like San Rafael and Novato, as well as across San Francisco, Alameda, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties. You can reach me at 415-755-8899, or toll-free at 877-204-8900. Alternatively, you can contact me online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how I can help.