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Whether you’re in the Memphis area, anywhere in the mid-south, or any place across this country from sea to shining sea, the rules for obtaining social security disability benefits are the same. Since the process is a federal one, the criteria for disability remains constant no matter what state or what jurisdiction you’re covered by. That said, many people wonder what exactly qualifies a person for social security disability benefits. In this brief article, I will focus on the “impairments” that can lead to a favorable finding of disability. Please note, this will be a general overview, and not an exhaustive list of specific impairments.

Physical Impairments:

Most, but not all claimants suffer from some type of physical deterioration or disability that keeps them from being able to work full-time. This can be from head to toes, or from brain injuries to foot amputation. In other words, any kind of physical limitation can theoretically lead to a determination of disability by the social security disability administration. Many people who have worked hard labor have back and neck issues – spinal degeneration or cervical radiculopathy – for instance. Some people who work office jobs also develop back problems and things like carpal tunnel syndrome. Some folks have diabetes that progresses to more seriously restrictive issues like seizures or intense peripheral neuropathy. Some folks have migraines so bad that they cannot get out of bed on occasion, resulting in missed work and termination. There are a multitude of physical ailments that can be severe enough to keep someone from working full-time at any kind of job. Remember, being disabled means a person is unable to work full time, or make more than a certain amount of money every month. An SSD attorney rep can answer any questions you may have about the specifics of these requirements.

Mental impairments:

Just like back pain, arm numbness, rheumatoid arthritis, and every other physical ailment, mental diseases and disorders can affect a person’s ability to maintain gainful employment as well. Depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, and host of other mental disorders can make it extremely difficult for a person to interact with others, work in public, or even stay focused on tasks long enough to complete them. While many struggle with different levels of anxiety and depression, some are affected to the extent they cannot function on a day to day basis to the level that is required to maintain competitive employment at any level. Most folks diagnosed with a mild form of mental illness will not qualify for SSD, but more intense diagnoses and inpatient treatment can signal a very serious mental impairment that can lead to a finding of disabled by the social security administration. In addition, some people have a combination of both mental and physical restrictions that can come together to make work impossible. Where maybe the physical or mental impairments alone would not prohibit working full-time, the combined effects can work together to make work impossible.


Social Security maintains a group of impairments and their side effects that come together to create what we call “listings.” This list contains very specific physical and mental manifestations of illnesses and impairments that result in automatic favorable determinations of disability if met. These are typically very specific and difficult to meet, but certain diseases like cancer or autoimmune disorders(among many others)when advanced, can meet one of these listings. If a medical expert or social security reviewer determines that a listing is met – the claimant is per se disabled. Meeting a listing is fairly uncommon, but it certainly can and does happen.

Again, speaking with an experienced attorney about your case can shed a lot of light on the process and the strength of your claim.