Disability affects many people in many different ways. Some people have limited mobility and require the use of a wheelchair, or other mobility aid, to get around. Others may have a disability that’s not immediately apparent to others, like autism or a learning disability. Regardless of how each person appears to others, they are all affected by disability, and they are all protected by law.

Many conditions that don’t fall under the popular sense of “disability,” like mental illnesses, are increasingly recognized. If you’re struggling with a medical condition or impairment that’s making it difficult to maintain a steady income, you may be eligible for disability benefits through Social Security.

But if you’re like many people, you may not realize that your condition is considered a disability, or you may not like the word or what it means to you. This can prevent you from seeking help or getting the benefits you deserve, so it’s worth taking another look at what disability means.

How disabilities are classified

The way we think about and classify disabilities in everyday speech is different from how they’re viewed from a legal standpoint. There’s often a sense that a “disability” is something that requires a wheelchair or a hearing aid, not something that you take medication for, or something that comes and goes.

The idea that disabilities have to look a certain way to be legitimate is a misconception. Still, it’s deeply ingrained in some people’s minds, including those who live with disabilities. Because of these misconceptions, people may not recognize or understand their own impairments, and may suffer unnecessarily.

Social Security only looks at how severe a condition is, not whether it’s a mobility issue or a mental illness, or anything of that nature. Likewise, the Americans with Disabilities Act has recently become more inclusive of people with diseases.

There is a special classification for some disabilities that are particularly severe, like certain forms of cancer and dementia. These are called “Compassionate Allowances” and are designed to more quickly assist people who need it the most. It doesn’t mean that Social Security recognizes different types of disability.

If you are struggling with your condition and need help understanding if disability benefits are an option, we can help. Katherine has been working on cases involving disability for years, and she can give you insight into disability law. For a free consultation, contact us by phone, email, or text message today!