How Will Social Security Disability or SSI Look At My Case If I have More Than One Disabling Condition?

Social Security considers all of your disabling conditions when they make a medical disability determination. It does not matter whether you have one or more than one disabling condition. In fact, Social Security is more concerned about how your disabling condition, or a combination of conditions, affects your ability to perform substantial work activity than the conditions themselves.

The disability examiner assigned to your disability claim must first determine if you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (s). This can only be done through objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source (i.e. a licensed physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.). Social Security does not consider a chiropractor to be an acceptable medical source, although they will consider any objective medical tests contained in their records.

Once the disability examiner determines that you have a medically determinable disabling condition (s), they must evaluate the severity of your condition or conditions. At this point, your disability claim will be approved for benefits if your disabling condition (s) meet or equal the criteria of a Social Security medical impairment listing (in the blue book, also known as the Social Security Disability list of impairments).

Unfortunately, few disability claimants actually meet or equal the strict criteria of an impairment listing. If your condition or conditions do not meet or equal the criteria of an impairment listing, your disability claim still has a chance of being approved through a medical vocational allowance. Medical vocational disability determinations take your age, education, past work, and residual functional capacity (residual functional capacity is what you are able to do in spite of the limitations of your disabling condition or conditions) into consideration.

The disability process involves an evaluation of your ability to perform substantial work activity (Social Security determines a monthly earnings amount that it considers to be substantial gainful activity or SGA) as well as an evaluation of your medical and/or mental conditions. Disability examiners must determine whether or not you can perform any of your past relevant work (work that lasted for three months or more, in which you earned substantial earnings, and had time to learn the job) considering your residual functional capacity.

If they find you unable to perform any of your past work, they must also determine if you are able to perform other types of work considering your age, transferability of your job skills, residual functional capacity, and education. You can only be found disabled under Social Security guidelines if you are unable to do any past work, or any other work at a substantial gainful activity level because of the limitations imposed upon you by your disabling condition(s).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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