Life holds special challenges for those whose disabilities are not readily apparent.
Approximately 96% of people with a chronic medical condition are living with an illness that may be considered an invisible disability. An invisible disability is a mental, physical, or neurological condition that limits a person’s mobility, senses, or activities and is not obvious to other people – hence, “invisible.”
These people show no outward signs of illness and do not use an assistive device such as a cane or wheelchair, and act as if they have no medical problems.
Still, 10% experience symptoms that are disabling. Unfortunately, because these disabilities are not apparent, they may lead to misperceptions and misjudgments.
Some examples of invisible disabilities include:
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Asperger Syndrome
- Bipolar disorder
- Brain Injuries
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Pain Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sleep Disorders
- Spinal Disorders
- Heart Conditions
- Seizure Disorders
A person who is in a wheelchair or carrying a white cane is easy to identify as having a disability, but individuals with a disability such as a vision or hearing impairment, who do not wear glasses or a hearing aid, are not.
73% of people with a severe disability do not use a device such as a wheelchair. Similarly, invisible disabilities such as fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, renal failure, and diabetes are not obvious.
Some symptoms and behaviors an individual with an invisible disability may experience include:
- Chronic Pain. A variety of conditions can cause chronic pain and limit a person’s activities severely. Chronic pain can be caused by back problems, bone disease, and physical injuries. The pain may not be noticeable to people who are unaware of the person’s condition.
- Chronic Fatigue. This condition causes a person to feel constantly tired and affects all areas of the person’s life – work, home, and social activities.
- Mental Illness. Some mental illnesses like depression, ADHD, schizophrenia or agoraphobia can be debilitating even though they may not be obvious to an onlooker.
- Chronic Dizziness. This condition is usually related to an inner ear problem and can cause problems walking, driving or working.
A person with an invisible disability may or may not seem disabled, but they still live with many challenges.
An invisible divisibility can hinder a person’s ability to work, attend school or social activities, or complete everyday tasks. They may work full or part-time, but at the end of the day have no energy for other activities. Others may not be able to work at all and may need assistance with everyday tasks and care.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from an invisible disability. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
While the invisible disability creates challenges for the disabled person, it can also be difficult for others to recognize and understand if there is no visible evidence of the condition.
A person with an invisible disability may be active in work or at school and be involved in hobbies or sports but still be limited or compromised in other areas of the lives. Because the limitation is not readily apparent people may misinterpret the disabled person’s needs and not know how to help. For example, a person who has a brain injury may be thought of as slow or lazy because their appearance is normal.
Invisible disabilities can cause special difficulties for students and children.
A student with ADHD or a psychiatric condition may need certain accommodations although they appear perfectly healthy and normal. Invisible disabilities are the most common type of disability in college students and individuals with an invisible disability are less likely to get a degree than a person who is not disabled. In light of these issues, educators, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies are continuing to develop policies and procedures to identify students with learning disabilities and help them progress and succeed.
Because of the social stigmas associated with disabled people, many employees do not disclose their disabilities.
A 2011 study reported that 88% of people with invisible disabilities had negative views of disclosing their disabilities to their employers and 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated the unemployment rate for people with an invisible disability is higher than those without a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the rights of all people with disabilities, including individuals with medical conditions that are not obvious. According to the ADA, a person with a disability “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.”
Some of the conditions listed above may prevent a person from working.
If you suffer from an invisible disability and it has impacted your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you will need to satisfy a few specific requirements in two categories as determined by the Social Security Administration.
The first category is the Work Requirements which has two tests.
- The Duration of Work test. Whether you have worked long enough to be covered under SSDI.
- The Current Work Test. Whether you worked recently enough for the work to actually count toward coverage.
The second category is the Medical Eligibility Requirement.
- Are you working? Your disability must be “total”.
- Is your medical condition severe? Your disability must be “severe” enough to interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, and remembering.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA has a “List of Impairments” that automatically qualify as “severe” disabilities. If your disease is not listed this does not mean you cannot get disability, it means you must prove you cannot maintain employment due to your limitations.
- Can you do the work you did before? SSDI rules look at whether your medical condition prevents you from doing the work you did prior to developing the condition.
- Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do your prior work, an evaluation is made as to whether you can perform any other kind of work.
More details can be found on our Qualifying for Disability page.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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