Can you File for Disability for more than one Condition?

Social Security Disability and SSI claims are seldom based on just a single condition. Usually, a claim will involve multiple conditions listed at the time of filing a disability application. Likewise, claims are often not limited to just physical or mental impairments, but both types of impairments (for instance, degenerative disc disease and anxiety, or fibromyalgia and depression).

Can you successfully file for disability for more than one condition, or for both a mental and physical condition? Yes, and, typically, listing multiple conditions can help a claim. This is because disability claims that are filed with the social security administration are not based on simply having a specific condition, or a type of condition, but, rather, on the limitations that result from one or more conditions.

To explain what we mean by this, we should make reference to the disability evaluation process. After a disability claim is taken at a local social security office, it is transferred to a state disability agency where it will be assigned to a disability examiner.

The examiner's first job is to request the applicant's medical records and, after they have been received, to evaluate them for the purpose of determining how the applicant's condition (or conditions) affects their ability to function and engage in normal activities of daily living.

The disability examiner, toward this end, basically reads the applicant's medical records looking for evidence of specific limitations. Such limitations may involve how long the applicant can sit, stand, walk, stoop, crouch, reach, grasp, hear, see, etc. Other limitations may involve the individual's ability (or inability) to recall information, or learn new information, or get along with supervisors and co-workers in a work setting.

The limitations held by an applicant for disability benefits will be reflected on something known as a residual functional capacity form. This form is completed by the disability examiner and also by a doctor who works at the same agency (disability determination services).

How important is this form? Very, since the rating that is given by the disability examiner on the RFC form will be compared to the jobs that were previously done by the applicant (past work) and also compared to jobs that the applicant might be considered having a chance of doing (other work).

Very often, the more conditions that are listed on the disability application, the more likely it will be that the applicant will be more functionally restricted (assuming, of course, that a history of treatment for these conditions can be found in the medical records that have been gathered).

And greater functional limitations will ordinarily result in a case in which it is more likely for the applicant to be A) found incapable of returning to their past work, and B) found incapable of being able to perform some type of other work in the national economy.

For this very reason, individuals who file for disability should make every effort to list everything that is wrong with them, and to include a detailed listing of their medical treatment providers. When it comes to filing a claim for disability with the social security administration, more (more information, more sources of treatment, more diagnosed conditions, etc) is simply better.

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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