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What is a ‘Medically Determinable Impairment’ for SSD in Ohio?

This blog has previously discussed some basics of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, including such terms as “Substantial Gainful Activity.” The importance of understanding such terms is due to the fact that they are part of the legal definition of disability that is used by the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility for benefits both in Ohio, and nationally.

This definition is operable in both physical and psychological health-related cases. So, when applying for disability benefits due to mental health issues, one must show that one must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that will last longer than 12 months or result in death. We’ve talked about substantial gainful activity and touched on the 12 month rule, but what is a medically determinable impairment?

According to the SSA’s Guide for Health Professionals, medically determinable impairments are those that result from problems that are physiological, psychological or anatomical and can be evidenced by acceptable diagnostic techniques in a laboratory, or those of a medical nature. To be considered to have such an impairment the applicant is going to have to show the SSA that the impairment exists by evidence of symptoms, signs or laboratory results. That is, the applicant will not carry his burden if the only medical evidence for his or her mental condition is self-reported symptoms.

According to the guide, Disability Determination Services, the state agency responsible for collecting, examining and making an initial determination of the medical evidence in the states, will try to glean the necessary information from the applicant’s own medical records. DDS may also, however, schedule a consultative examination. It is preferred that this medical evaluation be done by the applicant’s doctor, but the DDS can order an independent one as well.

This might be the part of the process that it is hardest for an applicant with a mental disability to overcome, considering that many psychological conditions are diagnosed based on symptoms reported by patients. However, there are ways to generate and present the required evidence, which is why those seeking to file for disability benefits due to mental health issues may wish to consider speaking with an experienced Ohio disability attorney.

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