You cannot get disability for a hangnail. Your impairment must seriously affect your ability to work. It must be an impairment that will last or can be expected to last for more than 12 months. In my 30 years of practice, I have always found Social Security Judges to be very sympathetic to a claimant with a serious impairment such as lupus or cancer.
It is best to be 55 years old or older when applying for disability. The system favors the older applicant. On the other hand if you are under 50 years of age you may have to show you cannot do any job that exists in the national economy. It does not take much physical ability to be a greeter at a Walmart store or a security monitor watcher. If you are under age 50 you will have to show you cannot do those types of jobs.
Your Own Doctor's Opinion
Social Security has a rule that can help most applicants. That rule says if your own doctor's opinion is well reasoned and based on many clinical visits by you over a period of time then his/her opinion can be granted "controlling weight" in your case. Thus, if your doctor supports your claim, then you have a great chance to win your case. In my experience, 100% support by the claimant's own doctor is crucial to success in a claim for disability. I have had a number of cases where the United States District Court has reversed a Social Security Administrative Law Judge precisely because the Social Security Judge did not give enough weight to the opinion of the claimant's own doctor.
Your Skill And Educational Level
Unfortunately, the more education you have and the more skills you have the harder it is going to be to win a disability case. For example, even if you are over 55 years of age and have a serious orthopedic impairment but you still can do some sort of clerical work at a desk, you probably will not be found to be disabled. This is especially true if your past skills and education indicate you can do clerical work. However, all is not lost if you can show your impairment prevents you from "sitting" to do clerical work or if your impairment prevents you from the very light repetitive work required of clerical work. On the other hand if you have less than a high school education, a history of manual labor, you are 55 years old, and you have an orthopedic impairment that prevents manual labor, then you are on your way to a winning case.
THE OPINION OF A SPECIALIST
If you have an impairment such as lupus, some type of cancer, or fibromyalgia, the opinion of your family doctor (although beneficial) will probably not carry the day. What you need is the support of a specialist who treats the particular impairment you have. For example, with fibromyalgia you would need to consult a specialist in arthritis or rheumatology. He or she would at a minimum have to say your fibromyalgia met the American College of Rheumatology diagnostic criteria for the disease. For cancer, you probably need the opinion of an oncologist.
in this note should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the format
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