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Defining disability in medical and legal terms

Disability is often a last resort for someone whose pain has taken him or her away from the workforce. It’s difficult to give up work, but it’s more difficult to deal with the pain.

While SSDI is a government program to help those in need, it has very strict requirements. Boiled down, there are three factors that must apply:

  • An inability to continue work in your chosen career
  • An inability to do any other work because of the disability
  • An injury that will restrict work for a significant amount of time (or permanently)

An overworked system

While these core elements seem simply, the Social Security Administration is particular about proof and the overworked system has major processing delays. A recent article in the Washington Post notes that processing delays are on the rise.

Those delays have real costs. The death rate of waiting applicants has risen 15 percent since 2016, and applicants who are unable to work have medical bills and other expenses mounting as they wait.

Besides bureaucratic pains, the application is very strict. There are specific types of documentation needed to prove that, not only is the applicant in pain, but that he or she can’t do any work whatsoever. Applications have increased in recent years, but judge’s approval ratings have simultaneously decreased, the Post reports. Every delay in processing or every appeal means more pain and increased financial concerns.

The medical record matters

In proving the seriousness of injury, documentation and hard proof are essential. While everybody understands what pain means, everyone measures the word differently. SSDI requires detailed diagnosis that doesn’t just define an injury, but how it affects the body. Similarly, it’s key to record how medication affects an applicant. Many painkillers cause drowsiness, lightheadedness and fatigue, which can make work impossible. The only way the court will know this is with a record of how it makes you feel.

Documenting the details

These are just a few of the details required in proving disability. It is a difficult, but necessary path.

It is possible to get the assistance you need from SSDI, but it’s a challenging application. By working with an experienced attorney, it’s possible to get the right details in your application from the start. Experience matters, because of the many fine points to the application process. Knowing the law in detail, knowing what types of evidence appeal to a judge, and knowing how to record your pain and suffering in a way that the court will understand can help your case.

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Disability Rights Law Center
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Los Angeles, CA 90017

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