Can An Illness Be Invisible?

Imagine you’re sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. There are three other patients sitting around you. One of them has a broken leg, while the other is using a respirator. The third patient, though, looks perfectly fine. They don’t appear to have any physical injuries, and when the doctor calls their name, they are able to stand up without any trouble, and make their way to the office without the assistance of a wheelchair or other mobility device.

So what’s wrong with them, you wonder. You might even be annoyed that this person is getting called into the office before you. They don’t look sick, you might scoff.

But invisible illnesses are just that: invisible.

What is an Invisible Illness?

Simply put, an invisible illness is an illness or disability that is not immediately apparent. An invisible illness might be internal, mental, or neurological, or something that is only visible at certain times. A disability can also be invisible if it is not readily apparent; for example, if a Deaf person is not wearing hearing aids.

There are many types of invisible illnesses, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Food allergies
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Digestive disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Neurological disorders
  • Dyslexia
  • Mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders

Even conditions like cancer or heart disease can fall under the umbrella of invisible illness, since they do not always have physical manifestations.

Due to the fact that they aren’t always outwardly noticeable, people with invisible illnesses or disabilities face a fair amount of stigma, or prejudice. They are told they are not really ill, or dismissed by their doctor because their pain or illness is not obvious. When they park in handicapped spots, they are called lazy and undeserving. Outsiders think they are “faking it” and accuse them of taking away attention and treatment from people who are “really” sick.

Does an Invisible Illness Qualify for SSD?

However, invisible illnesses are very much real. Like visible injuries or illnesses, they can be painful and debilitating. They get in the way of work, social life, and hobbies. If an illness is so severe that it keeps a person from doing any substantial work, they may be able to apply for Social Security Disability. An invisible illness or disability is still incredibly valid, and anyone who is suffering from severe pain, lost wages, or an inability to work deserves help.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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