How to Approach Social Security with Multiple Conditions
Are you applying for social security with multiple conditions, but aren’t sure which one to report? Many applicants for disability-based programs believe they have to claim one aspect of their overall health concerns to designate as the disability they want to be considered. While a common belief, it is a misconception. Social Security will look at all health concerns–both physical and mental–in making their decisions. This also includes any side effects you may experience from medication, especially if it limits your ability to perform work-like functions.
Additional Tips: 5 Reasons Why Social Security Claims are Denied
Medically Determinable Impairments
Social Security Disability applications seek to capture medical conditions that have the greatest impact on your ability to work. This list serves as a starting place for Social Security’s review of your medical record, but is not the only condition to be considered. Records are reviewed for any medically determinable impairment, including multiple conditions or older impairments. In other words, those things your doctor(s) have diagnosed within the medical file.
Severe Multiple Conditions
Medically determinable impairments are considered severe if they impact your overall ability to perform work-like activities. Severe impairments would impact your ability to do things like: sit, stand, walk, lift and carry, bend, stoop, kneel, crouch, etc. on the physical side.
On the psychological side, worker functions include understanding and remembering instructions, carrying out those instructions, persistence tasks, concentrating on tasks, meeting pace standards, working with others, meeting basic worker standards for behavior and cleanliness, etc.
Reporting multiple conditions can be especially challenging if there are both physical and psychological impairments to consider. An experienced professional can help make sure that none of your qualifications are under-represented.
Residual Functioning Capacity
Once severe impairments are identified in the medical records, Social Security will look for indications of the degree of limitation that each condition imposes on that work-like activity. For example, a diagnosis of Lumbar spinal stenosis could certainly impact one’s ability to sit, stand, and walk. The degree of this limitation is gauged based on complaints of numbness, tingling, limited range of motion, strength loss, reflex loss, x-rays, MRI reports, etc. For psychological conditions, Social Security might look at tests for concentration, memory recall, attention, or mood instability. Each condition will have its own testing standards.
The degree of limitation from each condition is used to determine your Residual Functioning Capacity. In other words: the most you can do despite all of your conditions. This, in turn, is compared to the minimum capacity required by employers. If you can’t meet an employer’s minimum standards–you are approved. If you can meet the minimum requirements, you are denied. Social Security’s decision reflects their opinion about what you can do, but it is subject to disagreement through the appeal process.
How Can a Disability Representative Help?
Speaking with a qualified disability representative can help you highlight the conditions that are most impactful on your ability to work. A qualified representative can also identify conditions in your records that appear to have minimal impact but, in reality, are complicating your ability to return to work. Additionally, a qualified representative can bring attention to remote injuries or past conditions and make sure they are accounted for. For example, an ankle fusion from 10 years ago might not make it into the current treatment records because it was already healed, but it could still impact one’s ability to stand or walk for prolonged periods.
We want you to get full credit for each of your conditions and to make sure the medical records detail the real impact that they have on your work potential. Partnering with a qualified representative who reviews the records in real-time can help address inaccuracies and shortcomings in the record while there is still time to address them. If you have multiple conditions in your medical history, don’t assume that they’re too small or irrelevant.
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The Resource Center is a local team in Springfield, Missouri. Collaborating with a local team is an excellent option for anyone who enjoys a personable, one-on-one experience where you know everyone by name. Our mission is to help make your experience easier. We strive for success in everything we do and are excited to talk with you about your situation and case.
Whether you’ve already begun incorporating prior or multiple conditions, or are just getting started, we encourage you to schedule a consultation to help determine the best strategy for your case.
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