Disabled people who are unable to work may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can help individuals of any age who are unable to work because of an illness or injury. Phillip M. Hendry is a Social Security disability attorney near West Monroe helping claimants throughout Northwest Louisiana.

Social Security Disability Benefit Programs

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers the following two disability benefit programs:
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To qualify, you need to have worked X number of work credits in Y amount of time.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify, both your household income and your financial resources cannot exceed a certain threshold.

Depending on your situation, you may qualify for both SSD programs.


To be eligible for either SSD program, you need to meet all requirements. This includes the following: citizenship, residency, age, and financial need (SSI) or employment (SSDI). You must also meet SSA’s definition of “disability.”

SSA considers you “disabled” if you have a medically determinable mental or physical impairment that has lasted, or is anticipated to last, for 12 continuous months, or anticipated to result in death, and that prevents you from obtaining in any “substantial gainful activity” (SGA).

You do not have a substantial gainful activity requirement if you are under 18.

Medically Determinable Impairment

Your impairment is “medically determinable” if your doctor diagnosed you based on clinical examinations and test results. The SSA appreciates that there are conditions that are disabling. The SSA compiled two lists of disabling impairments:

  • Compassionate Allowances List (CAL)
  • Listing of Impairments

Compassionate Allowances List

Impairments listed in the CAL are generally so serious that you will automatically be qualified for benefits just from a diagnosis, like:

  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Acute leukemia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

However, there are some listings that indicate how severe an impairment must be to become eligible for benefits. For instance, your cancer condition may qualify you for benefits if it metastasizes or progresses. Notably, not all potentially fatal or severe conditions, like AIDS, qualify under CAL. Your Social Security disability attorney can review your diagnosis in order to determine whether it falls under CAL.

Listing of Impairments

For your condition to be disabling under the Listing of Impairments, certain criteria must be met. Some conditions in the listing include:

  • Back or neck problems
  • Mental health or emotional issues
  • Arthritis
  • Some lung and heart conditions

Your Social Security disability attorney can review your medical records to decide whether you qualify under the Listing.

Proof of the occurrence of some medical conditions, like transplant of certain organs or cochlear implant, automatically qualifies for disability. SSA will annually re-evaluate your condition to decide whether you still are eligible for SSD benefits.

Other Conditions

If your condition does not fit the impairments in the CAL or Listing, you may still qualify for benefits if your condition “equals” an impairment in the listing if your:

  • Impairment does not meet the criteria specified in the Listing but you have other related medical impairments that have “equal medical value” to the Listing’s criteria
  • Condition is not in the Listing but you have a similar and “medically equal” condition to an impairment in the Listing
  • Multiple conditions, none that individually meets the disability listing, have the combined effect that is “medically equal” to a similar impairment in the Listing

Your West Monroe Social Security disability attorney can help compile a persuasive application showing that your impairment(s) is “medically equal” to an impairment in the Listing. 

Substantial Gainful Activity

You must not be able to engage in substantial and gainful work activity if you wish to qualify for disability benefits. “Substantial” is either part- or full-time work where your earnings do not exceed a certain amount. You can still earn benefits while working as long as you earn less than this amount.

Gainful activity is work:

  • Done for pay or profit
  • Intended for profit, no matter whether you actually receive a profit of a nature usually done for pay or profit

The SSA will review your impairment, age, education, work history, and skills when assessing whether you are capable of obtaining SGA. You can review this information with your Social Security disability attorney.

A Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help

An experienced Social Security disability attorney can assist you in obtaining both the necessary documents and medical evidence for your SSD application. With a knowledgeable attorney’s help, your chance of an approved claim or appeal increases. You do not pay attorney fees until your claim for benefits is approved. Call Phillip M. Hendry Law at (318) 553-5900 today.