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Documenting Impairment

Documenting Disability: Simple Strategies for Medical Providers (2007) | A guide to documenting medical impairments in support of applications for Federal disability benefits (SSI, SSDI) published by the HCH Clinicians’ Network, National Health Care for the Homeless Council. This manual seeks to demystify the process, pointing to use of the Social Security Administration’s Medical Listing of Impairments and providing practical, experience-based advice for medical providers. This updated edition of the 2004 manual focuses in detail on the complex issues involved in documenting impairments that co-occur with substance use disorders.

Healing Hands Articles

  • Dealing with Disability: Cognitive Impairments & Homelessness (2003) | Homeless people with cognitive impairments affecting thought, memory, speech, and/or psychosocial competence present some of the toughest challenges that clinicians face. Articles describe disabling brain disorders often seen in homeless individuals and specify effective case management strategies.
  • Dealing with Disability: Physical Impairments and Homelessness (2002) | The included articles sketch the etiology and scope of physically disabling conditions frequently seen in people who are homeless, specify major obstacles they encounter, suggest what HCH providers can do to prevent or remove these barriers, and highlight special sensitivities that clinicians need to serve clients with disabilities effectively.

Additional Resources

  • Documenting Disability Training for Medical Providers | A special opportunity for clinicians to learn how they can expedite Federal disability benefits (SSI/SSDI) for individuals with severe medical impairments. The online training is specifically designed for physicians, psychologists, and others who are authorized to provide medical evidence of impairment in support of SSI/SSDI applications. Other clinicians (nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, nurses, medical outreach workers) who assist with documentation of medical impairments are also welcome to participate.
  • Access to Medical Care for Individuals with Mobility Disabilities (2010) | To assist health care providers with better serving persons with disabilities, this publication, which was jointly issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice, provides clear and practical guidance on how to provide equal access to medical care, including an overview of general requirements, commonly asked questions, and illustrated examples of accessible facilities, examination rooms, and medical equipment, so that the organization can better serve persons with disabilities, protect persons with disabilities and your staff from injury, and comply with federal law.
  • Disability Evaluation under Social Security (the Blue Book) | An online reference on the Social Security Administration’s website that contains medical criteria (Listing of Impairments) that SSA uses to determine disability (January 2005). The Blue Book is intended primarily for physicians and other health care professionals. Hard copies may be obtained free of charge from SSA.
  • Consultative Examinations: A Guide for Health Professionals (the Green Book) | Contains basic information about the Consultative Examination (CE) process for physicians and other health professionals. This SSA guide explains: the Social Security Disability programs; how the Disability Determination Services (DDS) requests CEs; what to look for in reviewing CEs; and the essential elements of CE reports for specialties most often involved in CEs for adult and pediatric disability cases.
  • People Experiencing Homelessness, and Their Service Providers| A special section of the SSA website that provides information of interest to homeless claimants and their advocates: SSA reports, program instructions, information about benefit programs and how to qualify for them, and announcements of funds available for outreach projects, including the Homeless Outreach Projects and Evaluation (HOPE) grant.

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