Asbestos is a set of minerals that occur naturally in the form of fiber bundles. Today, asbestos is recognized as a health hazard and closely regulated. However, asbestos has been used in various products, and as Social Security attorneys in Arlington Heights understand, exposure can still occur. This risk is especially high among construction and shipyard workers.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, no level of asbestos exposure is safe. Each incidence of exposure can cause lung disease or scarring, which can lead to difficulty breathing. Exposure over just a few days can cause mesothelioma. Given these serious health effects, asbestos exposure victims frequently may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration considers many asbestos-related diseases disabling. These diseases are listed in the “Blue Book” of impairments. Individuals who suffer from listed conditions automatically qualify for benefits on a medical level. The following lung conditions appear in the Blue Book:
- Malignant mesothelioma. This cancer is considered disabling if victims document mesothelioma of the pleura or mediastinum tumors that treatment cannot control.
- Lung cancer. The listing includes small-cell carcinoma, severe cases of non-small cell carcinoma and certain cases of superior sulcus cancer.
- Pulmonary insufficiency. The SSA uses lung capacity tests to determine whether asbestosis or other lung-restricting diseases qualify as disabling.
Asbestos-related diseases that affect other parts of the body may also appear in the Blue Book. Exposure victims must provide thorough documentation to prove they suffer from these conditions and meet associated requirements. A diagnosis, medical history and objective testing can help establish the condition. In claims involving cancer, biopsy results and notes from surgical procedures are also appropriate forms of evidence.
People who don’t meet Blue Book criteria may also qualify for SSD benefits by receiving medical-vocational allowances. As Social Security attorneys in Arlington Heights can explain, allowances are awarded based on a person’s ability to work.
When granting allowances, the SSA considers every health problem that an individual suffers from. The SSA also considers the individual’s unique skills, work experience and educational level. An allowance is awarded if these factors prevent the person from working gainfully in any capacity.
Meeting non-medical criteria
Unfortunately, victims of disabling medical conditions aren’t always guaranteed SSD benefits. As most Social Security attorneys in Arlington Heights can attest, these individuals also must fulfill non-medical requirements.
First, SSD applicants must have paid adequate amounts of Social Security taxes. People with limited earnings or little recent work history may not qualify as “insured.” Second, applicants cannot engage in work with monthly income over $1,090. The SSA makes an exception for blind individuals. In all other cases, this level of work precludes a person from receiving benefits.