Environmental illnesses and Getting SSDI benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered to workers who have a severe health condition which is so severe they are unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. So does SSDI cover environmental illnesses such as sickness due to exposure to asbestos, chemicals in the workplace or lead poisoning? Yes, if you are suffering from a severe environmental illness you may receive SSDI, assuming you meet the requirements of the SSDI program, regardless of how you became disabled.
Symptoms of an environmental illness that could result in disability
Some of the most common environmental illnesses have been caused by dangerous chemicals in the workplace such as asbestos. Workers who have had exposure to asbestos years ago may have recently contracted diseases such as lung cancer or tumors. Exposure to lead has also caused severe diseases such as brain damage, kidney problems, high blood pressure and stomach problems. According to WebMD, other common symptoms from environmental illnesses can include:
- Fever and chills
- A cough
- Muscle aches
- A rash
Determining disability for an environmental health condition
Regardless of your health condition the Social Security Administration (SSA) is most concerned with whether or not you can work and perform what they call substantial gainful activity (SGA). They will first make this determination by deciding if your condition “meets or exceeds” a listing in the SSA listing of impairments. If your condition is listed or meets a listing, assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements for SSDI, you will be automatically awarded SSDI benefits.
What if your condition does not meet or exceed a listing? You will have to prove through a medical vocational allowance that you do not have the residual capacity to work. Because the SSA will consider not only your condition but also your age, educational level and your transferable work skills when determining if you can retrain for new work, younger applicants will have a more difficult time winning benefits if they cannot meet a listing.
Meeting a disability listing for environmental conditions
Whether or not your condition will meet a listing will depend on your condition and symptoms. For instance, if you have lung cancer due to exposure from asbestos the SSA will evaluate your condition under 13.00 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases, specifically 13.14 Lungs. Just having lung cancer may not be enough to automatically win benefits; you must also prove your symptoms are as severe as those listed.
If you have been exposed to lead and have lead poisoning and have brain damage the SSA will examine your symptoms and evaluate if they meet the listing under 11.00 Neurological in the SSA listing of impairments. If they decide your symptoms are as severe as one of the conditions under the listing you will automatically receive SSDI benefits.
Hiring a disability lawyer if you have an environmental health condition
If your condition does not meet a listing it is likely you will be denied the first time you apply for SSDI benefits. If this happens you have 60 days to appeal your denial. It may be a good idea to talk to a disability lawyer at this point and discuss how they may help you win your case.
Need Help with a Environmental Illness Disability Claim?
Complete the short form and a Disability Advocate will review your case for FREE. It's 100% Confidential and there's No Obligation. What do you have to lose? Get help winning your disability case today!