Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a very daunting process. In 2010, the approval rate at the initial application stage was only 35%. In Missouri, the rate is a little lower, at 33.6%. In Arkansas, it is a bit higher, at 42.9%. These discouraging statistics lead many clients to ask, are there certain medical conditions that lead to automatic disability benefits? The answer is yes and no.
Who makes the decision regarding disability
In Arkansas, the office is called the Arkansas’s Disability Determination for Social Security Administration. In Missouri, it is known as Missouri Disability Determination Services. These state agencies determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability for their respective residents. The process has been standardized throughout the nation. As such, each analyst will determine the answers to specific questions in determining whether you meet the disability standard.
The SSA Impairment Listing Manual
There are certain impairments that the Social Security Administration has identified in its Impairment Listing Manual, which can be approved for benefits more easily than others. However, the disability evaluation and determination process is never “automatic.” For example, someone who has had a heart transplant will be considered disabled for one year following surgery. After that point, the individual will need to be evaluated for any residual impairment, in order to remain on disability.
Certain requirements must still be met
Even if you are claiming one of the impairments listed by the Social Security Administration, your claim will still be evaluated to make sure you fulfill the non-medical requirements for the SSDI program. Your medical records will still need to be presented and evaluated, in order to substantiate your claim of disability. If any necessary information is missing, it must be provided and it must be current (within 60 to 90 days). If your records do not sufficiently demonstrate your disability, regardless of the type of impairment you may have, your application can still be denied.
The closest the Social Security Administration gets to an automatic decision, are claims for conditions that are so serious, a diagnosis would clearly qualify for disability benefits. In 2008, Social Security implemented a program to expedite the handling of serious cancers and certain rare diseases. The list created at that time was referred to as the “Compassionate Allowance List.” Decisions regarding conditions on that list are possible within a month. The list started with only 50 conditions. Now the list includes approximately 165 conditions and expands each year. There is also an expedited terminal illness program.
Factors that do not matter in the decision
Whether you “look” disabled is never a consideration. In fact, the person evaluating your application does not see you before making the decision. Nor do they determine whether you “deserve” the benefits you are seeking. Instead, they look strictly at whether you are medically disabled. The determination is not based on “fairness” or what seems right. Nor do they rely solely on whether your doctor believes you are disabled. Your medical records, not your doctor’s opinions about your condition, are what is important.
If you have questions regarding social security disability, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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