The Challenges of Living with a Disability that is not Readily Apparent.
Life holds special challenges for those whose disabilities are not readily apparent.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
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.
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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Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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