Not all disabilities are apparent. Millions of people live with “hidden disabilities” that you can’t see. A hidden disability can affect the sufferer’s life in many ways, making everyday life difficult.
There are many types of hidden disabilities. Let’s look at four of the most common ones.
Common Types of Hidden Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines “disability” as:
- An impairment that heavily limits at least one significant life activity
- A record of such an impairment
- Someone regarded as having such an impairment
Amendments in 2008 changed how people should understand the above definition of disability. “Major life activities” can include many different types of actions, including:
- Major bodily functions
- Living independently
- Self-care activities
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four Americans has a disability that impairs a significant area of life. Many of those disabilities are invisible to the human eye. Someone could have a disabling condition even if they don’t appear to be disabled.
Here are some severe or chronic “hidden” disabilities that might show no signs on the outside.
1. Mental Health Conditions
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health conditions affect someone’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, or mood. A mental health condition can make it hard for someone to relate to others. The condition can also affect everyday functions.
Many people live silently with mental health disorders like:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Dissociative disorders
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Cognitive issues can make remembering, concentrating, or deciding things difficult. Although someone can look “normal” on the outside, a mental health condition can be debilitating.
2. Autoimmune Diseases
Typically, your body’s immune system protects you from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. But when someone has an autoimmune disease, their body gets confused. The immune system thinks that certain parts of the body are foreign invaders.
With an autoimmune disease, the body attacks healthy tissues and organs. The attack can happen in one area or throughout the whole body. There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases, including:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Graves’ disease
- Addison’s disease
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
No one knows for sure what causes the body to attack itself. Some autoimmune diseases tend to run in families. Infections, diet, chemical exposure, and genetics are all possible causes.
One thing’s for sure: autoimmune conditions are disruptive to life. They can make day-to-day tasks exhausting or impossible. Some conditions cause flare-ups or pain without an explanation. Meanwhile, someone can show no outward signs of their disease.
3. Chronic Pain and Fatigue Disorders
Many people who live with chronic pain also have constant fatigue. Conditions like this include:
- Chronic tension headaches
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Infections, severe illness, and chronic conditions can cause chronic fatigue. Sleep issues, medications, autoimmune diseases, and much more can contribute to chronic pain and fatigue.
Constant fatigue makes it difficult to work and focus in the same way as other people. Some deal with so much pain that they cannot work at all.
4. Neurological Disorders
Brain disorders affect millions of Americans every year. When something goes wrong, it can impact all areas of life. Examples of common neurological disorders include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscular dystrophy
- Huntington’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Gaucher’s disease
- Brain tumors
- AIDS dementia
Before getting to know them well, you might not realize someone has a neurological disease. Although not visible on the outside, these hidden diseases can affect every area of someone’s life.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other trauma can also lead to neurological issues. TBIs can leave someone with long-term or permanent brain damage. A brain injury can affect behavior, mood, concentration, sleep, and so much more.
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Those with Hidden Disabilities Are Not Faking It
The above conditions just scratch the surface of hidden disabilities. Other examples can include:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Hearing loss
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Back injuries
Unfortunately, those with hidden disabilities often face unfair accusations. People might think they are faking their disorder or that the symptoms are “all in their head.” This perspective is incredibly invalidating — and untrue.
If you have an invisible condition, you shouldn’t have to convince everyone that you have an impairment. You are not lazy or imagining things. You also shouldn’t have to downplay your condition to avoid judgment.
At John Foy & Associates, we help those with disabilities get the benefits they deserve. Contact us today if you need help with your disability application. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.
Does Social Security Disability Cover Hidden Disabilities?
Those with hidden disabilities might hear things like, “you don’t even look disabled!” However, an invisible condition can be just as disabling as a visible one. If your condition prevents you from working, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
You probably qualify for SSDI if:
- You have a medical condition that prevents you from working.
- You have paid enough into Social Security through work wages.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is strict when evaluating SSDI applications. You will need to show how your condition prevents you from working. Unfortunately, proving your condition can be more difficult if you have a hidden disability.
If you are worried about getting disability benefits, talk to an experienced lawyer. Your lawyer can advocate for your rights. They can also help you with every step of the application process.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
John Foy & Associates has been helping disabled individuals get SSDI benefits for over 20 years. Whether you still need to apply or need to appeal a denial, we can help.
We do not charge a fee unless we win your case, so there is no risk to you. To get a FREE, no-risk consultation, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online. We are available 24/7 to take your call.