Do you have more than one health condition? If so, you may ask what is the best approach when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Should you add every condition to your application? Does this improve your chances of approval? Or is it better to focus on a single condition that’s giving you the most trouble? And, if you have several conditions, do you qualify for more benefits? These are all important questions to ask your attorney.
Applying for SSDI With Multiple Conditions
You may only have just one health problem stopping you from working. But, many SSDI applicants have more than one condition. It is their combined impact that makes it difficult to work. Each condition may be more or less severe on its own. You should remember that SSA may look at the big picture for your case.
Adding all eligible issues to your SSDI application is a good idea, even if you think something is minor. This includes both physical and mental impairments. When approving benefits, SSA evaluates your disability as a whole. They consider their combined effects. A minor impairment can worsen the symptoms of another health problem. SSA considers the nuance of how conditions interact.
How SSA Decides Whether to Approve Your Claim
SSA has a five-step process to decide whether to approve your benefits application. Questions it may ask to prove your claim include:
- Are you engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA)? SSA defines SGA as at least $1,470 in monthly earnings. If you are still working and earning enough money, SSA will likely deny your claim.
- Are the impairments severe? SSA looks at the medical evidence in your file to determine if your conditions limit your ability to work. At this stage, SSA also looks at the combination of impairments. They may decide that single conditions that do not qualify on their own could qualify when considered together.
- Does the impairment meet Blue Book criteria? The SSA Blue Book outlines specific criteria for what qualifies for disability benefits. It is up to you and your lawyer to prove your condition meets a Blue Book listing. This can be from one or more conditions together.
- How much of your past job(s) can you do? SSA decides on what it calls Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). How able are you to work? This can include restrictions like where you can work, the amount of weight you can carry, and the loss of ability to see or hear.
- Are you able to perform other work? You may not be able to do your current job anymore. But, can you pivot to a different line of work? Can a workplace adapt so you can work there? RFC scores apply here too.
Will I Receive More Disability Benefits?
No. Having more than one condition does not mean that you will receive more money each month. SSDI benefits help cover any lost wages as a result of your disability. The point is that you are not able to work. Say you got rid of three of your conditions, for example. You would not be able to triple your wages at your current job. The same is true with disability benefits.
Remember that SSA looks at your case as a whole. The amount you receive does not increase with more health conditions. The extent of your disability benefits may depend on other factors, though.
Why You Need a Lawyer on Your Side
Just saying you have a condition may not be enough. Even if you think you cannot work, SSA may see things differently. Documentation matters. SSA looks very closely at the medical evidence. What are the doctors and other health professionals saying? Can other witnesses attest to your ability to work?
An experienced attorney can help you present the most compelling case possible to SSA. This can help you get the monthly payments you deserve. Even if you have already applied for disability benefits, you should speak with a lawyer about how you can improve your application.
Call Us Today
Request a free consultation by calling our offices at 508-283-5500. You can also reach us toll-free at 888-904-6847 or via our online contact form. Navigating Social Security Disability Insurance can be confusing. Let our experienced attorneys walk you through the process and help you gain clarity over how to claim disability benefits.