Many people in Ohio and across the country suffer from a medical condition that prevents them from being able to work and earn a living. If their condition meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of a “disability,” then they may apply for needed assistance through one of two Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The Division of Disability Determination (DDD) processes all disability benefits applications in Ohio. When a person applies for benefits, the DDD will review the application and initially determine whether the person suffers from a condition, or “disability,” that makes the person eligible for benefits. For many reasons, including a lack of medical evidence, DDD may find that a person does not have a qualifying disability and reject the claim.
Is Your Medical Condition Listed in the Blue Book?
If you suffer from a condition that the SSA has listed in the Blue Book, then your condition will be treated as a “disability.” If you meet all other requirements, then you should be eligible to receive disability benefits. The Blue Book has separate lists for adult and child medical conditions.
To qualify for benefits, your condition must meet certain criteria listed under the specific medical condition. The criteria can be highly technical. You should work with a doctor who understands the information which DDD will need to make a decision on your benefits claim. At Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., L.P.A., our attorneys can handle the collection of all medical evidence in your case.
The medical conditions listed in the adult Blue Book are divided into 14 categories:
- Musculoskeletal problems – Everything from back injuries to a bone or joint deformity
- Sense and speech issues – Vision loss, hearing impairment and the loss of speech
- Respiratory illnesses – A range of respiratory disorders, from chronic but manageable conditions such as asthma to more severe conditions such as lung transplants and respiratory failure
- Cardiovascular conditions – Serious conditions related to the heart such as heart failure, congenital heart disease and transplants
- Digestive system problems – Conditions such as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hepatic (liver) dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome and malnutrition all fall into this category
- Genitourinary disorders – Conditions typically related to kidney injuries, including chronic glomerulonephritis, hypertensive nephropathy, diabetic nephropathy and hereditary nephropathies
- Hematological issues – Non-cancerous blood disorders such as hemolytic anemias, disorders of thrombosis and hemostasis and disorders of bone marrow failure
- Skin conditions – A variety of skin disorders resulting from hereditary, congenital or acquired pathological processes, including conditions like mucous membranes and dermatitis
- Endocrine disorders – Medical conditions that cause a hormonal imbalance, typically because the endocrine gland functions abnormally and causes either too much or too little of a hormone to be released
- Non-mosaic Down syndrome – This genetic condition is the sole disorder considered under the congenital disorder prong
- Neurological conditions – Disorders that cause disorganization of motor function, bulbar and neuromuscular dysfunction, communication impairment or a combination of limitations in physical and mental functioning
- Mental disorders – Mental conditions that fall into eleven specified sub-categories that include everything from eating disorders to autism
- Cancer – Factors such as the origin of the cancer, extent, response to anti-cancer therapy and the effects of any post-therapeutic residuals are all considered in evaluating a claim for cancer
- Immune system problems – A variety of disorders that manifest by compromising the immune system such as lupus or inflammatory arthritis.
What If You Have a Medical Condition That Is Not Listed in the Blue Book?
Even if the mental or physical condition that you suffer from is not found in the Blue Book which the DDD uses to evaluate disability claims. However, even if your condition is not listed, you may still qualify for benefits.
First, the DDD will determine whether your condition is medically equivalent to the criteria in the listing or a related listing. In determining whether there is medical equivalence, the SSA considers whether your impairment is described or not in the Blue Book or whether your combination of impairments gives you a qualifying disability.
Second, if your condition is not listed in the Blue Book or medically equivalent to a listed condition, then the DDD will determine whether your condition is a medically determinable impairment that stops you from being able to work. In making this determination, the DDD will prepare and consider an assessment of your “residual functional capacity.”
In an RFC evaluation, the DDD will consider the effect of your condition on your ability to perform routine daily activities and work. The DDD will typically take a look at the nature of your prior employment and may also consider your age, education and specialized skills. At that point, the DDD will determine whether there is any kind of job which you can safely be expected to do. If it is determined that you cannot perform any kind of work, you will be awarded SSD benefits on that basis alone despite your condition not being included in the Blue Book.
Our Ohio Disability Benefits Lawyers Are Here to Help You
At Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., L.P.A., we are here to review your case, discuss your options and help you with your disability benefits application or, if necessary, with your appeal. We understand the medical and legal issues in these cases, including how the DDD will determine whether you have a medical condition which makes you eligible for benefits. We have a record of helping people with disabilities throughout northeastern Ohio to get the disability benefits they deserve, and we bring more than 200 years of combined legal experience to each client we serve.
With five offices conveniently located throughout Ohio, we will do everything we can to make it easy and convenient for you to get skilled legal representation at each step of your Social Security Disability benefits case. To learn more about how we can help you, call or reach us online today. We can provide a free and private consultation through our office in Youngstown, Warren, Salem, Ravenna or Akron.
Robert L. Heller has practiced law in Ohio for nearly 40 years, devoting his entire career to helping disabled people in the Mahoning Valley to pursue needed benefits. A native of Warren, Ohio, Robert earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and his law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. He also studied public administration at American University in Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice in Ohio state courts, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as well as a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives (NOSSCR).