Individuals seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) should make themselves familiar with the “Blue Book.” This online manual is a vital resource for those seeking financial assistance due to a serious health condition that restricts them from working.
The Blue Book, also sometimes referred to as the “Listing of Impairments,” was created to assist Social Security administrators and health care providers in determining what conditions are severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity.
Divided into 14 major body systems, the Blue Book contains both the medical conditions, as well as the medical criteria, required to earn a Social Security disability award.
How Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits with Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, a progressive disease that occurs when a person’s bones become weak and brittle, is said to affect up to 44 million people in the U.S. over the age of 50.
Despite the prevalence of the disease, the Social Security Administration has not identified a separate listing for the illness in the Blue Book.
Even though osteoporosis is not included as a disabling condition within the Blue Book, there are several listings in the Blue Book in which an individual with osteoporosis might fall. Namely, most listings in the musculoskeletal section, 1.00, of the Blue Book could apply to those suffering from osteoporosis.
The most common side-effect of osteoporosis is broken bones. Section 1.06 of the Blue Book addresses lower extremity fractures, such as breaks to the femur, tibia, pelvis, or one or more of the tarsal bones.
If an individual has suffered a fracture that has not healed, or is not expected to improve within a year, he or she might qualify for disability benefits.
Further, if the bone fracture has caused ongoing difficulties with ambulation, such as an inability to walk without the use of an assistive device, the individual will be considered for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Section 1.07 of the Blue Book addresses upper extremity fractures, such as breaks of the shaft of the humerus, the radius, or the ulna. According to the Blue Book, if despite surgical intervention the fracture has been unable to heal, and arm function has failed to be restored, candidacy for disability benefits will be considered.
Individuals with osteoporosis should consider the root cause of their condition. If another illness has contributed to brittle bones, such as an adrenal disorder, he or she might want to explore whether or not they meet a listing in another section of the Blue Book.
For example, some individuals with autoimmune disorders have osteoporosis as a result of the required use of steroids. While they may not meet a listing in the musculoskeletal section of the Blue Book, it is possible that the underlying cause of the osteoporosis is listed as a condition in another part of the manual.
What Medical Evidence Do I Need for My Osteoporosis Claim?
The Blue Book offers a detailed explanation of what kind of supporting medical documentation is required for individuals seeking disability benefits.
For individuals with osteoporosis, the SSA will need a detailed description of the disease, including a physical exam that addresses both the condition of the musculature and a report of the fractures.
The doctor should carefully describe any physical limitations that have occurred as a result of the osteoporosis.
For individuals with osteoporosis, a radio-nuclear bone scan is essential. In fact, more than one bone scan over time can be very helpful in demonstrating the progression of the disease.
Other imaging such as x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs illustrating bone fractures will also need to be provided.
If the osteoporosis has resulted in a fracture that required surgery, a full surgical report should be included in the medical records. Any additional treatment, such as medications prescribed, as well as a person’s response to treatment should also be addressed.
Should I Hire A Lawyer to Help Me with My Osteoporosis Claim?
Due to the relatively mild nature of the illness, the majority of people living with osteoporosis will not qualify for SSDI benefits. However, there are exceptions for individuals suffering from a more severe, progressive form of the illness.
Perhaps the best thing you can do to increase your chances of winning a disability claim for osteoporosis is to hire a qualified disability lawyer.
An experienced Social Security attorney can help you navigate the complex application process, as well as guide you through the sometimes-necessary appeals process. A disability lawyer only gets paid if you win your claim, so you truly have nothing to lose.