Disability can happen at any time

Disability affects 56 million Americans, or about one in five people, according to the Social Security Administration. Many Illinois residents may think these people are primarily older adults, since vulnerability to illness and injury increases with age. However, as any Illinois disability attorney knows, disability can occur at any age.

Disability rates

Many disabling conditions begin before adulthood. Social Security provides benefits to over one million adults who have been disabled since childhood. The total number of adults who developed disabilities as children may be even higher.

The risk of certain disabilities also may be greater earlier in life. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen drivers are more likely to experience car crashes than other drivers. These accidents may cause severe injuries and permanent complications.

The SSA reports that more than one-quarter of 20-year-olds will become disabled before they reach retirement.  Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits may be available to help these individuals.

Support available

People over age 18 may be eligible for two types of benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are available to people who qualify as insured based on their earnings. Supplemental Security Income benefits are awarded to people with low earnings and assets, regardless of their work history.

To receive benefits, disabled adults must meet financial and medical criteria. The SSA employs a definition of disability that excludes short-term conditions and partial disablement. A condition is only disabling if it is terminal or expected to prevent a person from working for over a year. The condition also must preclude all forms of employment.

Seeking SSD

Disabled adults may qualify for SSD benefits in several ways, as an Illinois disability attorney might note. The following methods are the most common:

  • Meeting a “Blue Book” listing — this book lists conditions that the SSA considers disabling if specified criteria are met. Claimants may need to document symptoms or functional limitations
  • Equaling a Blue Book listing — people who almost meet listing terms may “equal” a listing. The SSA must find that a person’s symptoms or impairments are as severe as those described in the listing.
  • Receiving a medical-vocational allowance — these are awarded based on a person’s functional limitations. The SSA assesses whether a person’s impairments prevent the person from doing work he or she is reasonably capable of.

The SSA requires claimants to provide extensive evidence of their disabling medical conditions. Claimants must provide a diagnosis and supporting documentation from licensed physicians or other accepted sources.

Claimants additionally may submit personal statements or reports from non-medical sources to establish their symptoms and impairments. As an Illinois disability attorney understands, this evidence can help a claims examiner gain further insight into a person’s disabling condition.