Some issues with hearing, vision, and speech can prevent you from working, making it hard to support your family and make ends meet. These impairments can occur suddenly or get worse over time. If this sounds like your situation, you may have questions about whether you qualify for disability benefit programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
At Berger and Green, our attorneys understand what it takes to get Social Security Disability (SSD) for special senses and speech disorders. We want to help you get the payments you deserve. We can review your claim information, help you understand the qualifications based on your specific health condition, and assist as you file your application. This gives you the best shot at getting benefits. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) already denied your claim, we can guide you through the appeals process. Call us at our Pittsburgh office at 412-661-1400. We offer free case reviews.
How Can I Qualify for Disability Based on My Speech, Hearing, or Vision Disorder?
The SSA outlines the criteria for meeting their medical qualifications in a book of impairment listings called the Blue Book. The listing that covers vision, hearing, and speech disorders is Section 2.0 – Special Senses and Speech Disorders. Under this listing, you can find the diagnosis, specific test results, outcomes, and future prognosis the disability examiner assigned to your case will look for in order to approve your claim. The criteria vary depending on your specific impairment.
For example, imagine you are deaf and just received a cochlear implant. The book of impairments says you may qualify for benefits for up to a year after surgery. After that, you need to meet other criteria to continue benefits. One example of this is a score of 60 percent or below in a word recognition test.
If you are not sure you meet the criteria for SSD benefits, we can help you evaluate your health condition and compare it to the related impairment listing or listings. It is important to note that you may still qualify for benefits even if you do not meet the qualifications in the impairment listings.
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What Is Residual Functional Capacity and Why Is It Important?
Residual functional capacity (RFC) is a statement of your remaining abilities despite your impairments. If you do not qualify for benefits based on the impairment listings related to your sense or speech disorder, your RFC will need to show you are unable to work.
The disability examiner on your case reviews your medical documentation, has your doctor and any specialists complete forms, and may even request you attend a consultative examination on the SSA’s dime. From this information and documentation, they put together an overview of the types of tasks you can or cannot do. For example, if you have a speech disorder, you may struggle to work with the general public. However, you may be able to handle an assembly line job or a job that only requires communication in writing.
If the disability examiner determines you cannot work your most recent job or any job that does not require special skills, you will likely qualify for SSD benefits. Often, especially when it comes to vision, hearing, or speech issues, people are still able to work with reasonable accommodations. We can evaluate your case if this applies to you.
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Why Is Medical Documentation and Evidence So Important in My Disability Claim?
The only evidence disability examiners have to support your disability application is the evidence you provide and the documentation from your health care providers. We can ensure you claim includes contact information for your doctors, specialists, and others familiar with your impairment.
The SSA will request these records and other documentation and will look for very specific test results and treatment outcomes in order to determine if you meet their criteria. When it comes to proving your vision, hearing, or speech disorder is causing a serious impairment, they will consider documentation that includes:
- Your diagnosis and the severity of your condition;
- Test results necessary for diagnosis and determination of severity;
- Information about your treatment and the outcome; and
- Your doctor’s opinion about your condition and how long it may last.
One of the best ways to ensure your medical records contain the right information is to tell your doctor or specialist that you are applying for disability benefits. They can help you document your condition and provide the test results and other information the SSA disability examiner needs to approve your claim.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Getting Disability Benefits?
While meeting the medical criteria is often the most difficult hurdle for people seeking disability benefits, some applicants also receive a technical denial. This means they do not meet the other qualifications for the disability program. These qualifications differ between the SSDI and SSI programs.
SSDI is not an income-based program, but there is a limit to how much you can make from working a job and still qualify. You need to meet the SSA’s substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit by earning less than $1,170 each month during 2017 and $1,180 per month in 2018. You also must have a work history that supports your benefits and have earned enough work credits by paying Social Security taxes.
SSI is an income-based program. You cannot qualify if you have an income of more than $735 for an individual or $1,103 for a couple in 2017. This includes not only earned wages, but also investments and other types of income. There is also a strict limit on assets.
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What If the SSA Denied My Disability Application?
We can help you fight a denial of your claim for any disability program. The SSA is notorious for denying claims on initial review, so there is no reason to panic. Often people who meet the criteria can win a reversal during the appeals process.
Give us a call as soon as possible after you receive a notice about your claim denial. We need to get started quickly, requesting a hearing in front of an administrative law judge to present your case. Usually, we can use our skill and experience to our advantage here to get qualifying clients’ benefits started and recover back pay on their behalf. If not, we will continue through the appeals process or help you file a new application.
How Can I Reach a Pittsburgh Disability Lawyer About Getting Benefits for Special Senses and Speech Disorders?
The lawyers at Berger and Green can help you get the monthly benefits you deserve from Social Security. We can help you understand the criteria for those with special senses and speech disorders, examine your information, and help you file your claim. Call us today at 412-661-1400 today to set a time to talk to a Pittsburgh disability lawyer free of charge.