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Chicago Social Security Disability LawyerA serious illness or injury can affect a person in many ways, and the issues related to a person’s condition may make it difficult or impossible to maintain employment and earn enough income to meet their ongoing needs. Those who have experienced major health issues that have lasted or will last for at least one year may be able to receive disability benefits through Social Security. When applying for Social Security disability, a variety of factors will be considered to determine whether a person’s condition meets the qualifications to be considered a total disability. Residual functional capacity (RFC) is one issue that can play an important role during these considerations.

What Is Residual Functional Capacity?

Social Security uses a five-step process to determine whether a person is eligible for disability benefits. After looking at whether a person is currently working and the severity of their condition, Social Security will evaluate the person’s ability to perform work they had done in the past or other types of work. The maximum amount of work a person can perform based on their limitations is known as their residual functional capacity. 

When assessing RFC, Social Security will look at a person’s ability to perform work-related tasks on a regular and continuing basis during a full-time work schedule. If a person has sufficient RFC that will allow them to work 40 hours per week or to maintain gainful employment while working less than full time, they will generally not be considered to be disabled.

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Chicago Social Security Disability LawyerThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of difficulty for nearly everyone in the United States. Around 79 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus, and around 950,000 have died. Unfortunately, many people who have recovered from infections are continuing to experience serious symptoms that affect their daily lives. These issues are common enough that they have become known as “long Covid,” and those who suffer from serious symptoms often struggle to maintain employment and complete other daily tasks. While conditions that are serious enough to prevent a person from working may qualify them for disability benefits from Social Security, many have had trouble receiving these benefits.

Problems With Social Security Disability Claims for Covid Long Haulers

Covid infections can have a number of long-term effects. Those who became seriously ill, were placed on ventilators, and experienced issues such as organ failure or bleeding in the brain have often been able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, others who experienced less severe symptoms following an infection have had trouble demonstrating that they meet the requirements for total disability.

Symptoms of long Covid often include extreme fatigue in which a person becomes exhausted even after performing minor physical activities. Many have also experienced issues such as shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pain, and pain in the muscles and joints. In many cases, long Covid also involves “brain fog” in which people struggle to think clearly, concentrate, and remember information. 

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Chicago Social Security Disability Benefits LawyerThere are a variety of physical issues that can result in a person suffering pain and discomfort, affecting their ability to perform daily tasks and maintain employment. Injuries or disorders that affect the back and spine can be especially difficult to cope with, and they may lead to chronic pain, limitations on the types of movements a person can perform, or even paralysis in certain parts of the body. In some cases, back and spine disorders may be so severe that they prevent a person from working and completing other daily tasks that will allow them to care for themselves and address their ongoing needs. Those who suffer from these conditions may be able to receive disability benefits through Social Security, and they will need to understand the requirements they will need to meet to qualify for financial assistance.

Disability Benefits for Musculoskeletal Disorders Affecting the Spine

A person will be considered to be disabled if they meet the requirements defined in the Listing of Impairments provided by Social Security. These listings address multiple types of physical and mental conditions, including disorders of the spine and back. Most musculoskeletal disorders affecting the spine fall under the classification of “disorders of the skeletal spine resulting in compromise of nerve roots.” 

Back and spine disorders that may be included in this classification include degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis/spondylosis, slipped or herniated discs, dislocations of joints in the spine, or fractured vertebrae. When these issues place pressure on the spinal cord, they may lead to ongoing pain, loss of sensation, or partial paralysis. To demonstrate that these issues have led to a disability, a person will need to provide documentation of all of the following:

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