New Orleans and Louisiana residents are eligible for Social Security Disability (“SSDI”) benefits if they have a disease or injury or physical/mental limitation that makes it impossible to work, or limits them from working. Obtaining SSDI benefits is linked to your ability to work or engage in gainful employment. What medical conditions are eligible can be confusing and complex. Some conditions are listed while others might require extensive proof via medical records and multiple physician examinations and reports.
If you think you are eligible for Social Security Disability in Louisiana, you are going to need a skilled and dedicated SSDI attorney like the ones at Ascend Disability Lawyers LLC.
Medical Conditions on the Compassionate Allowance Program for SSDI
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) runs SSDI and similar programs. The SSA compiles, and regularly updates, something called the Listing of Impairments (“LOI”). The LOI sets out diseases, illnesses and conditions for which SSDI benefits are available.
A shorter version of the LOI is called the Compassionate Allowance program. This is a list of about 200-250 diseases, illnesses and medical conditions for which SSDI benefits are automatic to a certain degree. This program allows people to get immediate help for their ailments. A few of the listed conditions are:
- Acute Leukemia
- Inoperable Cancer of various types including breast, thyroid, bladder, and prostate
- Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases — early onset
- Heart Transplant Wait List
Even if you have been diagnosed with one of these illnesses, an application for SSDI benefits must still be made. Medical records, tests and reports must be supplied. Even if you have a compassionate allowance condition, if the application is not completed properly, you can still be denied by the SSA.
What About Non-Compassionate Allowance Medical Conditions for SSDI?
The LOI tabulates thousands of diseases, only a small percentage of which are eligible for “compassionate allowance.”
For the non-compassionate allowance diseases and conditions, you must file an application and provide evidence that you have one or more of the other debilitating illnesses or conditions listed. The application process takes time and the process is cumbersome. As with proving a condition eligible for compassionate allowance, you must provide evidence of your illness and medical condition including the following types of data:
- Medical records
- Test and scan results
- Records of doctor examinations
- General medical histories
- Medical histories specific to your disease or condition including onset and progression
- Specific doctor diagnoses and prognoses
Of particular importance is your doctor’s report with respect to the clinical progress of your condition. SSDI benefits are available only for disabilities that are expected to last longer than 12 months. The clinical progress report establishes the date you first became unable or limited in your ability to work and also establishes the expected temporal length of your disability.
Evidence Needed Regarding Inability to Work in Louisiana
Sometimes, the most complicated aspect of applying for SSDI is providing sufficient proof of your work limitations. Since Louisiana SSDI benefits are related to your inability to work or your work limitations, you need a doctor’s evaluation or other evidence of your work-related limitations. Specific limitations that can be medically identified include the following:
- Muscle limitations such as limited ability to extend/raise your arm, to walk, stand, push, pull, carry, use fingers, etc.;
- Stamina and other time-increment limitations;
- Perception limitations with respect to seeing, hearing and/or feeling;
- Limitations on speaking;
- Cognitive limitations like the inability to understand speech;
- Occupational limitations such as an inability to accept supervision, follow instructions, etc.; and
- Social limitations such as an inability to work with others, etc.
What you and your lawyers must prove is that your medical condition limits or prevents you from doing any “gainful activity.”
What Do I Do If My Condition is Not Listed?
If you have a medical condition that is not listed AT ALL in the LOI, you can still apply for SSDI benefits in the state of Louisiana. Your burden of proof is higher, because you have to show that your condition is similar to a listed condition or that it is something new that has just been discovered or recognized by the medical profession as a disease or condition. In all cases, the medical condition must limit or prevent you from working.
As can be seen, an application for SSDI relies heavily on your lawyer and your medical providers.
Independent Medical Examination Sometimes Required
During the process, the SSA sometimes orders an independent medical examination (“IME”) often called a consulting examination. If the SSA needs an IME, then a letter will arrive in the mail. You must attend your IME even if you do not think it is necessary. You can be denied your benefits for “failure to cooperate.” Also, there is no way to know WHY the IME is being scheduled. It might be as simple as a needed test to confirm or update some aspect of your condition. The SSA is required to make decisions based on “recent” medical reports and reports.
Although the specific reason for the IME may not be known, the general purpose is to provide an independent examination and report of your condition. The doctors who conduct IMEs are not employees of SSA; rather they are physicians who have contracted with the SSA to do the examinations. Because they do not know you like your family doctor might, the IME doctor is, in theory, less likely to give you the “benefit of the doubt.” This can be good in the sense that, if your doctor and the IME doctor agree, that is very strong evidence in your favor.
After the IME, the doctor conducting the exam will prepare a written report including his or her medical opinion about diagnosis, prognosis, what condition you have, and whether your symptoms are as severe as claimed. The report will often have the results of occupational related tests such as those for muscle movement, ability to stand, how much you can lift, etc.
From all the evidence provided and obtained, the SSA makes a decision about whether to grant or deny SSDI benefits.
Do Not Delay! Contact a New Orleans SSDI Attorney Today
If you want to learn more about SSDI benefits or want legal help in applying, contact the experienced SSDI lawyers at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC. Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC has offices in New Orleans and are a leading Louisiana SSDI law firm. We have been helping Louisiana citizens for over a decade.