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SSDI - What are my chances of getting approved?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “What are my chances of being approved for scoliosis?” This question can really be asked about any disabling health condition because the requirements for approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are really the same regardless of the condition. While it is true that some conditions are considered automatically disabling, many conditions are not, and you will have to prove that you do not have the ability to work.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder of the spine which causes a complex lateral and rotational curvature affects approximately 3 out of every 100 people. Given the prevalence of this condition it is clear that many workers may have scoliosis and may not even know it or may be able to work.

Cobb angle measurement of a scoliosis; concave...

Am I disabled?

With all conditions, including scoliosis, the Social Security Administration will generally be less concerned about your diagnosis and more concerned with whether or not it is so severe you cannot perform what they refer to as substantial gainful activity.

For most workers diagnosed with scoliosis it will be very difficult to prove that you cannot perform some type of work. Most claimants with this condition may experience fatigue, uneven shoulders, an uneven waist and hips (which are more prominent than the other), but these symptoms may not be so severe you cannot work. In fact, many workers are able to get treatment such as surgery or wear a brace that will lesson the symptoms of their condition.

When is scoliosis disabling?

If you have been diagnosed with severe scoliosis and you have had severe complications from your condition such as severe back problems or lung and heart damage than your chances of winning SSDI or SSI benefits will increase.

The SSA has two methods they use to determine if you are disabled. First, they will review your condition and determine if it is as severe as a condition on the SSA Listing of Impairments. Scoliosis is not listed on the SSA Listing of Impairments, but if you have a severe case of scoliosis and it has caused additional health issues than your conditions may be evaluated under another listing (for example, back conditions can be evaluated under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System listing).

What if my condition is not in the SSA Listing of Impairments?

If your condition is not listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments and it is not considered as severe as a listing, your chances of winning SSDI or SSI benefits decreases. In fact, younger claimants (under 55 years of age) will have a VERY difficult time proving they cannot perform any type of work, especially sedentary work.

For older claimants it is possible to get SSDI or SSI benefits if their condition does not meet a listing but they will have to prove they do not have the residual functional capacity (RFC) to work. This is done through what the SSA calls a medical vocational allowance which is a formula that tests a worker’s capacity to do any type of work, based on their education, work experience and age.
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