How does a disability evaluation differ from an impairment evaluation

A disability is defined as a medical impairment that precludes a specific task. Generally, during a disability evaluation, that task is the examinee's job. Thus, the disability evaluation is comprehensive and based on various factors. One of these factors is the medical impairment. Other factors may include a person's age, educational background, educational capabilities, and other social factors. Such elements are used by the system to which the worker has applied for relief. For example, a person whose right arm has been amputated may be capable of entering the work force in some other capacity. If the person is young enough, smart enough, and sufficiently motivated, he or she may be capable of performing remunerative activities in some other job market. The referring agency uses such factors when determining whether a person is totally or partially disabled and which benefits are applicable. Thus, in a disability evaluation, the physician must not only quantify impairment but address additional issues such as:

• What tasks is the examinee capable of performing?

• Can the examinee attend work?

• Are job modifications an option?

• When will the examinee reach maximum medical improvement (MMI)?

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