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disability benefits, stroke victims, ischemic strokes, Cook County Social Security disability attorney, long-term disabilityAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are a “leading cause of serious long-term disability” in the United States. Each year, the CDC says roughly 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke—the vast majority of them for the first time. About 87 percent of all strokes are classified as ischemic strokes, where the “blood flow to the brain is blocked.”

This is what makes strokes so dangerous. Depriving the brain of blood and oxygen for even a few seconds can produce catastrophic consequences. Over time, the lingering after-effects of a stroke can degrade a person's ability to engage in meaningful work. Eventually, the victim may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Court Questions Social Security's Timeline for Stroke Victim's Disability Benefits

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disability benefits, Chicago Social Security attorney, apply for disability, disability claim, Illinois disability caseThe Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine whether or not someone is eligible for disability benefits. At the first step, a Social Security administrative law judge will “consider your work activity.” Legally, a person is only considered disabled if he or she has been unable to “do any substantial gainful activity” due to their medical impairments “for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In plain English, you generally need to be out of work for at least one year before you can apply for disability.

Judge Rejects Fired Schoolteacher's Disability Claim

This is not to say you cannot earn any money in the 12 months preceding the alleged onset date of your disability. Social Security defines “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) as a monthly threshold. For example, in 2018 a person may earn up to $1,180 per month and still qualify for disability benefits (or $1,970 if they are blind). There are also cases where a handicapped person may engage in “sheltered employment” without it constituting SGA.

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Social Security disability claimsAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 40 percent of U.S. adults suffer from obesity. While merely being “overweight” does not prevent most people from working, when obesity is combined with an individual's other medical impairments, it may qualify him or her for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Federal Court Orders Third Social Security Hearing for Applicant with “Morbid Obesity”

Getting Social Security to accept evidence of an obesity-related disability is often easier said than done. For example, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago recently ordered Social Security to conduct a third hearing for a disability applicant who first applied for benefits eight years ago. Among other issues, the appeals court cited Social Security's failure to consider how the applicant's “morbid obesity” interacted with her other medically proven impairments.

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