Health can be kind of a difficult concept to define. Even those of us who are considered to be in good health suffer from at least one physical limitation or health problem. Many of us suffer from multiple ailments that may be minor or major.
If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, the Social Security Administration will likely be interested in your “primary diagnosis.” In other words, this would be the main disabling condition or illness that does not allow you to work. That being said, you may suffer from several disabling conditions which exacerbate your primary diagnosis or contribute to your overall level of disability.
First of all, let’s look at the SSA’s 2012 data on beneficiaries and their primary diagnoses. According to the SSA:
- 31.8 percent of beneficiaries have a primary diagnosis falling under the category of mental impairment
- 28.8 percent suffer from a connective-tissue or musculoskeletal disorder
- 20.4 percent have been diagnosed with a serious disease including cancer, end-stage renal disease and uncontrolled diabetes
- 9.3 percent suffer from a nervous system disorder including multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy
- 8.7 percent have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition
Remember that these numbers reflect primary diagnoses. If you suffer from more than one significant ailment, you’re certainly not alone. Among those who suffer from a mental disorder, for instance, nearly half have at least one other mental illness. They may also be in poor physical health related to their mental illness. Some diseases, such as diabetes, often cause corollary health problems.
Creating the most accurate picture of your overall health can be difficult. You know yourself well enough to understand your limitations and struggles, but you may not know how to communicate that information clearly. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help you quantify and qualify your overall health issues in order to present a strong case for benefits.
Source: Center for American Progress, “Social Security Disability Insurance A Bedrock of Security for American Workers,” Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad, July 8, 2014