It started with muscle spasms in your back — you thought that you overexerted yourself playing golf, except that they didn’t go away. Eventually, you had to go to your doctor, who ordered many rounds of medical tests.
Now, you’re reeling from the realization that you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that will affect your independence for the rest of your life. You may not be able to work much longer as your symptoms progress.
This exact scenario plays out for thousands every year, and many other people will wind up diagnosed with other, similarly debilitating medical conditions that change their lives. Will you be able to depend on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to protect you after a diagnosis with a serious medical condition?
The severity of the condition affects your right to benefits
People wondering if they qualify for SSDI benefits often first try to determine if their condition is on a list of disabling conditions provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While it is true that certain conditions can more quickly qualify individuals for benefits, especially if the condition is terminal and progressive, the specific diagnosis isn’t what ultimately determines if you get benefits.
What really matters the most is how significantly the condition affects your life and health. You will need to show that a condition limits your ability to work or prevents you from taking care of yourself and living independently. The condition also will need to last for at least the year, if not the rest of your life, in order for you to qualify for benefits.
Remember that a denial is not the end of the road for you
If you have already had to leave your job because of your condition, getting a rejection letter in the mail after applying for benefits can feel devastating. You may wonder how you will possibly take care of yourself and your family without SSDI.
Thankfully, quite a few people who get denied at first can qualify for benefits during an appeal. A denial might not reflect the strength of your claim but merely a mistake in your application, such as not providing enough medical documentation.
You have the right to pursue several different kinds of appeal in order to get benefits. Getting medical documentation about the impact of your condition on your life can help make it easier for you to prove that your diagnosis qualifies you for the benefits you request.