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Unique Problems for Women Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

In general, the same standards apply to men and women seeking disability benefits. However, disabled women may face unique issues as the disability application is evaluated. Keller & Keller’s skilled attorneys can help women navigate this process.

Studies have shown that some disabling conditions are more prevalent in women than men, such as fibromyalgia and migraine headaches. When Social Security analyzes someone’s impairments, it will evaluate them under criteria known as listings. The listings contain standards for many impairments, such as spinal disorders, chronic heart failure, multiple sclerosis, etc. However, there are no listings for fibromyalgia or migraine headaches.

Medical Experts Are Required to Validate These Unique Disabilities

These impairments can be found to equal another listing, but this requires such a finding from a doctor who also has training in Social Security regulations. These medical experts often testify at Social Security hearings, but may have limited insight into these conditions. This is not necessarily because they were asleep in medical school—these conditions are often not well understood by the medical community as a whole.

Some observers would argue that funding for medical research has long been steered towards conditions which tend to affect men, meaning certain women’s health concerns have been relatively neglected. If your hearing involves a medical expert who will offer guidance to the judge about how you are limited (based on a review of your medical records), you need a skilled attorney by your side to cross-examine that expert.

Editorial columnist Maya Dusenbery writes: “Feminist critiques of modern medicine have long noted that, particularly when the cause of an ailment is unknown, doctors to default to a psychological explanation in women more than men.” To the extent this kind of thinking enters into evaluation of a disability case, it could lead a decision-maker to dismiss a woman’s pain-related complaints. Keller & Keller attorneys have specialized medical knowledge that can be put to use to prove the effects of a client’s impairments and rebut this kind of thinking.

Our Social Security Disability Lawyers Are Here to Help

While you want your lawyer to have the medical knowledge to understand terms like esophagogastroduodenoscopy (yes, the word is that long), Keller & Keller disability attorneys also understand people, and know that pain affects them in different ways. Our attorneys combine medical expertise with an understanding of our clients to persuasively show a judge why pain and other impairments make that person unable to work, and therefore eligible for disability benefits. You can contact our office for a free consultation.


Special thanks to Korin Metz for research assistance.

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