The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently confirmed that it will be reviewing the way it handles Social Security disability claims based on neurological disorders. Currently, neurological disorders account for only 9% of all disability claims approved. The SSA is looking into the possible reasons why the percentage of approved disability claims is this low for neurological disorders.
The SSA will begin by reviewing its Blue Book listings. The Blue Book (more properly called the Listing of Impairments) is the SSA’s official set of guidelines used to outline the conditions under which a person can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It lists a number of conditions, outlining how severe symptoms need to be for each condition before a claimant can qualify for disability benefits.
The system is far from exact. Even if claimants don’t qualify for disability benefits under the Blue Book listings, they may still be eligible for benefits if they have more than one condition. SSA representatives consider the total effect of a person’s disabling conditions and compare them to listings in the Blue Book to see whether the claimant’s condition is roughly equivalent to a qualifying condition.
Neurological orders, by their very nature, tend to be a bit tougher to quantify and gauge than most disabilities. It is also tougher for some claimants to produce the medical verification needed to qualify for benefits. In part, this is because neurological disorders are not always as obvious as physical disorders. It is also because many people who suffer from neurological conditions go untreated longer than those with physical disabilities.
Some neurological conditions are easier to diagnose than others, of course. The SSA lumps many different conditions under the heading of “Neurological Conditions.” These include conditions as diverse as cognitive birth disorders, degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, epilepsy, certain infections (i.e., meningitis), and brain cancer.
The changes being considered are designed to clarify the requirements to qualify for Social Security disability benefits with neurological disorders. The thinking at the SSA seems to be that there are too few qualifying for benefits due to neurological conditions and that the guidelines need to be clarified (and possibly adjusted) to allow more people who suffer from debilitating neurological conditions to qualify for benefits.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a debilitating neurological condition, you might consider consulting a Social Security disability lawyer. Lawyers who regularly deal with Social Security disability claims will generally have the most up to date information regarding both how the Blue Book guidelines for neurological conditions are written and the trends relating to how those guidelines are typically being interpreted by SSA officials.
Those who have previously been denied benefits can still benefit from the advice and representation of a Social Security attorney. Besides the fact that a Social Security lawyer can help you with the appeals process, they will have a good idea of whether the upcoming changes in the way the SSA handles neurological disorders could impact your claim.