Social Security Disability is a safety net program for qualified individuals who are too disabled to work gainfully. This means a qualified person with any number of disabilities or illnesses can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
If you have diagnosed comorbidities or multiple illnesses, read on to find out more about applying for SSD and the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) evaluation of multiple conditions.
Some medical conditions such as kidney failre with a need for dialysis, pancreatic cancer, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) automatically qualify an SSD claimant for benefits.
Automatic qualification means you do not need to prove that your illness limits your ability to work.
Even if your condition does not meet the exact requirements of SSA’s impairment listings, you may still qualify for benefits if this condition is medically equal to the listings requirements.
Sometimes, you may have multiple conditions, some of which may not meet the SSA’s impairment listings and some of which may meet these criteria.
The SSA must evaluate all your medical conditions as a whole, not separately, to determine whether the combined effect of the medical conditions is equal to a certain medical listing.
For example, if your doctor has diagnosed you with musculoskeletal impairment, you may still not demonstrate all the symptoms in accordance with the SSA’s impairment listing. You may also be diagnosed with diabetes and present all the symptoms in line with the impairment listings.
In this case, the SSA must evaluate the combined effects of diabetes and the musculoskeletal condition to determine whether these illnesses equal a listing, and how the illnesses impair your ability to work and therefore your eligibility for disability benefits.
Your SSD application should list all your diagnosed medical conditions that you expect to last for at least twelve months continuously, and keep you from working.
One condition on its own may not be disabling enough to qualify you for benefits, but when evaluated together, multiple conditions may significantly limit your ability to engage in any gainful work activity.
Residual Functional Capacity
In some instances, even when combined together, your comorbidities may not be medically equal to any of the SSA’s impairment listings.
The SSA will conduct a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment to determine, based on your physical and mental limitations, whether you can perform any type of work, and/or your past work depending on your age.
If your medical conditions significantly limit your physical and mental capacity to perform any work, including light and sedentary jobs, you may qualify for benefits based on the SSA’s medical vocational allowance path.
Bear in mind that the amount of benefits you receive each month is the same whether you have one or more qualifying medical conditions.
While multiple conditions can compound your disability and diminish your capacity to work gainfully, you will not receive more money with every additional medical condition you list on your SSD application.
To qualify for SSD coverage, be sure to present medical evidence from a qualified professional, more so if you suffer comorbidities. The SSA uses expert testimony to evaluate how disabling a physical and mental condition is.
Listing multiple diagnosed conditions in your SSD application may increase your chance of receiving disability benefits. You must demonstrate that combined, your conditions are too disabling for you to work gainfully.
If you have one or more disabling impairments and you are looking to apply for Social Security Disability, do not go at it alone. Get in touch with the experienced attorneys at Horn & Kelley, PC, Attorneys at Law, and let us prepare and guide you through the process for a positive outcome.