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What Are the 4 Hidden Disabilities?

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Beneficiaries with physical or mental impairments that are much more difficult to notice often have a more challenging time getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Four hidden disabilities regularly qualify people for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and as a lawyer with extensive experience working on disability cases, I know this firsthand. In this article, let's take a more in-depth look at these four common hidden disabilities. 

Quick Summary

  • In some instances, the invisible disability may allow a person to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
  • The SSA is notoriously difficult to work with when applying for SSDI, especially if you have an invisible disability.
  • A common issue for those with invisible disabilities is that medical professionals often do not take them seriously.

4 Most Common Invisible Disabilities

A doctor writing down on a clipboard on a table

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits somebody in at least one major life activity [1]

"Major life activities" can include various types of actions, such as:

  • Walking
  • Reading
  • Communicating
  • Bending
  • Major bodily functions
  • Living independently
  • Self-care activities

Some physical or mental impairments are not visible to the human eye. Even if a person does not look disabled, they could still have a disabling condition and are in physical or emotional pain. Some severe or chronic invisible disabilities might show no signs externally.

Here are the 4 most common invisible disabilities that can help qualify you for disability benefits.

1. Mental Illnesses

A doctor talking to a patient sitting down while holding a clipboardThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that mental health conditions can impact a person's behavior, thoughts, emotions, and daily life. 

These conditions make connecting with others and carrying out regular activities complex. Millions of people suffer from such an impairment.

These mental health disorders include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Major Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common psychiatric disabilities in the country. Symptoms characterize this disorder after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.  

Although specific hidden disabilities, such as mental health issues, are present on the SSA's Listing of Impairs, this does not guarantee automatic approval of your benefits claim.

2. Autoimmune Disease

An individual's immune system works to protect them from harmful viruses and bacteria. But when someone suffers from an autoimmune disease, their body gets confused and attacks healthy cells instead.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Related Article: Is Arthritis A Disability?

3. Chronic Pain and Fatigue Disorders

A person tired while holding her head and glassesNearly all individuals with chronic medical conditions live with a hidden or invisible condition.

The following conditions often cause both chronic pain and fatigue:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic tension headaches
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Though the SSA's Blue Book doesn't list chronic illness, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, as a condition, you might still be able to qualify for SSDI benefits if another condition causes your chronic pain. In this case, you must submit correct medical documentation demonstrating this to the SSA.

4. Neurological Disorders

Most Americans suffer from neurological disorders yearly, affecting every aspect of their lives when something goes wrong.

Some common examples of brain disorders include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease

Related Article: Is Epilepsy A Disability?

Other Common Hidden Disabilities

Close up shot of a doctor pointing to a clipboard

The hidden disabilities above are only just a few examples of hidden disabilities.

Some others can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Hearing loss
  • Multiple chemical sensitivities
  • Cancers
  • Asthma
  • Back injuries
  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Neurological disease
  • Brain injuries
  • Learning disabilities 

People with hidden disabilities are constantly fighting to prove their legitimacy to others. People generally don't believe in a medical condition they can't see with their own eyes, so those with physical impairments or physical injuries often get met with doubt or criticism.

Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits for a Hidden Disability?

A doctor talking to a patient while holding a clipboard

Yes, you can get Social Security disability benefits for a hidden disability. Providing evidence for an invisible mental health condition can be challenging, but a practiced Social Security Disability lawyer knows how to make a compelling argument for benefits.

If your medical condition keeps you from working, you could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

You may be eligible for SSDI in the case where:

  • You suffer from hidden disabilities that prevent you from working.
  • The amount of money you have paid into Social Security through work wages is sufficient.

The SSA is stringent in its review of SSDI applications, making it difficult to prove your condition if you have a hidden disability. When applying, you must provide documentation, such as your medical records, explaining how your condition impedes your ability to work.

"Make sure to keep your own records of what medicines you are prescribed, how often you took them, and what effects they had. This helps you establish a history of attempting treatments to ease your symptoms and cure your condition if a cure is possible."
- David A. Muncy, Attorney

See the other personal injury and accident litigations we've covered.


Can You Get Disability for Anxiety and Depression?

Yes, you can get disability benefits for anxiety and depression; if you suffer from anxiety or depression to the point where it impacts your ability to work, you may qualify for social security disability benefits due to your invisible disabilities. 

What Are Challenges for a Person with a Hidden Disability?

Challenges for a person with a hidden disability include that they are not being taken seriously by medical professionals. Their invisible condition can also significantly impact their ability to carry out basic daily tasks. 

Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a Disability?

Yes, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disability. Whether you believe that attention deficit disorder is caused by problems with the brain or think of it as a disability, it still affects a person's ability to focus and work.

Make a Case for Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is particular in what they look for when weighing out SSDI applications. You must demonstrate how your condition affects your ability to work a standard job. Unfortunately, this process becomes more complicated if you have an unseen disability.

For years, Schmidt & Clark, LLP disability lawyers have helped the disabled acquire SSDI benefits. We will guide you in your process and fight for what you deserve.