There are many disabling conditions which include an environmental impairment aspect, like hypersensitivity to noise and light, or inability to tolerate dust, fumes or other common environmental elements found in the workplaces within your field of expertise. In some cases, though relatively rare, the environmental impairment alone may be the reason for filing a disability claim. In other cases, the disability claim may be based on a diagnosed medical condition that also has environmental impairment symptoms associated with it.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) categorizes types of impairments for the purposes of evaluating an applicant’s ability to perform essential job duties. There are two main categories of employment-related impairments or limitations that the SSA recognizes: Exertional and Non-exertional. Exertional impairments are the more common type seen in disability claims. These kinds of limitations relate to an applicant’s inability to perform routine activities required on the job. There are seven subcategories under exertional impairments: pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, sitting, standing, and walking. Non-exertional impairments, while less common, are still valid reasons for filing a disability claim when they severely limit one’s ability to obtain and keep a job. There are five subcategories of non-exertional impairments: postural, manipulative, environmental, sensory, and mental.
If you are filing for disability benefits, and have an environmental impairment, you should include all of the pertinent information about it in your claim and medical file. You should do so even if the environmental impairment isn’t the sole condition upon which you are basing your claim. The reasoning behind this is simple: The SSA will make a decision on your claim based on all of your disabling conditions. If you have several disabling conditions which might not individually qualify you for disability benefits, you may still qualify based on the combined effects of all of your medical and/or mental conditions.
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®