Social Security Disability Is About Severity, Not Diagnosis

May 14, 2018
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When the Social Security Administration considers an application for Social Security Disability, the main deciding factor is not what exact type of medical disability is being experienced by the applicant, but rather the deciding factor is how severely the disability affects the applicant’s ability to work and live. Even if the medical condition is not listed in the SSA’s book of disabling impairments – typically referred to as the “Blue Book” – the SSA will still attempt to determine if the condition causes the applicant to be impaired to the point at which he or she is kept from establishing or maintaining employment that is gainful for them. In fact, most applications to the SSA for disability benefits actually do not match a particular listed condition in the SSA’s Blue Book. This means that most applications will probably need an additional review for eligibility and this is where a Social Security attorney will definitely come in handy.

It is, therefore, necessary to document your medical issues not only upon their onset but takes the time to document how the issues affect your daily life. Even if the effects do not seem like they are worth listing or documenting – continue to do so. The SSA also takes into account the impact that all the conditions have – especially when combined together. While some conditions have little or minimal side effects, the combined effects (including all of the conditions that are having any effect) can make a huge difference on whether or not the applicant can maintain gainful employment. Having this list also helps ensure that sufficient medical records will be submitted to the SSA. When compiling the evidence for your case, having a list of conditions that have caused ill effects will prevent something from being forgotten or left out of the application. If the SSA does not receive what it considers to be adequate medical records then it may require an evaluation of the medical condition by an independent, contracted doctor or specialist. While this may eventually turn out for a favorable decision from the SSA, this can significantly delay the decision and results in extra tests, examinations, and involves more steps. Documenting your own medical issues will also provide the doctor a clearer picture of your overall condition and the severity of your condition. From your documents, the doctor may be able to provide clearer insight, better details, and more descriptive medical records for use in your application for benefits.

While keeping a documented list of this information is important in establishing your case (can be especially helpful for your physician or specialist) it is also important for the applicant to actually see a specialist, possibly more than one if multiple disabilities are having combining effects. In fact, this is so important that many social security attorneys will insist that an applicant see a specialist since it lends much more weight to the case. A general doctor can diagnose a wide variety of different conditions, but using the educated opinion of someone who specializes in the condition will add much credibility to the application because they can more effectively communicate how the severity of the conditions impacts life. This might seem like overkill to some, but seeing a different specialist for each condition only adds more weight to the case. In fact, while not impossible to get the SSA to approve Social Security Disability with only one medical condition, each added condition increased the chances of the end result being an approved application. Each specialist can also discuss how the condition interacts with other conditions, increasing the severity of the condition as a whole. When unsure which conditions to see a specialist for, having the help of a social security attorney can ease those determinations.

The specialists not only provide their medical notes but will be able to fill out forms that will only strengthen your case, such as the Residual Functional Capacity form (RFC). In respects to the RFC form, while being a reasonably simple to fill out, it can play a very important part in how the SSA makes their determination mainly because it focuses on exactly how the severity of the condition has a direct impact on the ability to responsibly execute any activities that relate to work. The RFC has been designed carefully in order to minimize any uncertainty. It is uncertainty that can cause the SSA to delay in a decision or possibly deny benefits. Because the decision is based on the severity of the issue instead of the type of actual issue itself, the RFC form plays a massive role and using it to focus on the severity provides legitimacy to the case.

What Really Matters in Social Security Disability

To summarize, here is what we want people applying for Social Security Disability to remember. It does not matter what medical disability is being presented in the application. What matters most is how severe a condition affects the applicant’s ability to establish and maintain gainful employment. Conditions that seem “lesser” or insignificant than what might be considered the main disability are still very important to document and submit since the SSA takes into account the cumulative effects of multiple conditions or issues. Provide all the medical records necessary to adequately describe the case and condition – which may mean visiting multiple specialists to thoroughly document the severity of the issue.

Social Security Disability Expert in Volusia & Flagler Counties

In the Flager and Volusia counties, there is only one certified Social Security Disability expert and we at Rue & Ziffra are passionate about knowing what it takes to win a case that we present before a judge. Here at Rue & Ziffra communication is key, which is why we are certainly proud to have English, Spanish, and Russian speaking attorneys so that we can serve our community. With over 182 combined years dealing with these issues, Rue & Ziffra is the prime source for information and representation. Having handled over 28,000 cases across more than fifteen different legal areas – we know exactly what it takes to win a case. We have seen how hard insurance companies fight to prevent or limit payouts to those who deserve them and we strive to provide justice for those who partner with us.

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