Not All Impairments Are Created Equal

April 16, 2015

Insight from Attorney Dan Rosen

Unfortunately, when filing for Social Security disability benefits, someone may have a number of different medical problems that make working extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, it is important to remember that while all medical problems will likely be considered in deciding your case, not all impairments will necessarily help you to win your case. Ignoring certain health problems may not only negatively affect your well-being, but may negatively affect the outcome of your Social Security disability claim as well.

Recently, I spoke with a prospective client who was in dire financial straits and did not have insurance until more recently. He was 58 years old and always worked as a carpenter, as a member of the union. He was treated for a number of medical problems, including a rotator cuff tear, seizures, severe low back pain for which he had several surgeries, and significant depression. He had a seizure on the job, which caused him to stop working, out of fear that he would fall, and injure himself or someone else. When asking him why he was unable to work, understandably, he explained that it was due to his seizures. He stated that he suffered from a seizure every two to three months, and that he was a liability such that even if he could work, no employer would ever hire him. He said that his back pain had also gotten worse and was also interfering importantly with his work performance. This was a tough, proud working guy who was not looking for any easy out.

As experienced Chicago Social Security Lawyers, we were able to evaluate his case and determine that, in fact, proper documentation of severity of his back pain would be essential in helping him obtain disability benefits. His seizures, though the most worrisome medical problem to him, would likely not be considered disabling given their frequency. While he was taking pain medication and talking with his primary care doctor about his back pain, we were able to instruct him to use his County Care insurance to obtain x-rays and an MRI of his back, in order to have the best possible documentation for his claim.

The lesson from this case is relatively simple, but very important: In a Social Security disability claim, not all impairments are created equal. The impairment that concerns you the most may not advance your case. You may need additional documentation for other impairments. Just because a relative or neighbor received disability for a certain health problem does not mean that the same problem will result in benefits for you. A number of factors, including your age, education, work experience, and severity of your medical problems all come into play. If you have a medical problem but do not document it initially, this may cause a problem down the line. This is why it is important to have a local, Chicago Social Security Disability lawyer review your claim and offer you the best possible advice for your unique situation.