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Social Security Disability benefits and invisible disabilities

We all know that looks can be deceiving, but imagine what it's like when you "look fine" but are actually suffering from a hidden condition that is severely limiting -- if not outright miserable to endure.

That's the ordinary reality of people with hidden disabilities.

An "invisible disability" is any condition -- whether physical or psychological -- that is not obvious to other people but severely limits a victim's activities, abilities and daily functioning. Some of the many conditions invisible disabilities people suffer from include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gulf War syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Neurological disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People who suffer from these conditions often have no visible signs of their disability -- and they may not carry a cane, use a walker or require assistance in order to communicate. Others may use assistive devices on bad days -- and function well on others. For example, someone with fibromyalgia may use a cane when their condition is flaring but walk unaided when it is not.

Those who suffer from hidden disabilities also often suffer from another problem: the disbelief of others. When a condition isn't readily apparent to other people, some people tend to assume that the victim of that condition is either imagining things -- or making it up.

Living with an invisible disability is hard. The psychological wounds of feeling like they have to defend themselves against other people's skepticism and misconceptions can make the victim of an invisible disability doubt the ability of anyone to really understand what they are experiencing on a daily basis. Understandably, many of those people may hesitate to file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits when they need them. They may believe they simply have no hope of ever gaining an approval for a condition that comes and goes and can't be easily seen by others.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is well aware that invisible disabilities are real. Claims examiners also know that some conditions come and go unpredictably. If your loved one is the victim of a severe invisible disability but is hesitant to make a claim, encourage him or her to file for SSD benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) despite his or her fears.

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