If a recent diagnosis has forced you to leave the workforce, you are far from alone. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the average American worker at age 20 has a one-in-four chance of developing a debilitating illness or injury before reaching the full age of retirement.
If health issues prevent you from supporting yourself, you may be eligible for benefits through either the Social Security Disability Insurance program or through the Supplemental Security Income program. However, to qualify for either SSDI or SSI, you must be able to show that your condition is ongoing and severe enough to keep you from gainful employment.
What types of disabilities qualify?
You may qualify for benefits if your condition will significantly affect your ability to do basic work-related activities for at least 12 months. The SSA recognizes that there are many types of conditions that may be debilitating. Examples of impairments that may be eligible include:
• Endocrine disorders: diabetes, thyroid or parathyroid disorders
• Cardiovascular conditions: coronary artery disease, chronic heart failure or congenital heart disease
• Immune system disorders: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease or HIV/AIDS
• Mental disorders: brain injuries, schizophrenia or neurocognitive disorders
How do I prove my disability?
The SSA requires specific medical evidence that your condition exists and that it significantly impairs your ability to work. When applying for benefits, make sure to include detailed information about your medical history, including any tests or exams, diagnoses, surgeries, medications or treatments.
You may also want to let your doctor know that you can no longer work. He or she may be able to provide a statement explaining the nature of your condition and how it impacts your day-to-day life.