At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC, our practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of disabled individuals throughout Texas. If you have multiple illnesses that prevent you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Obtaining these vital public benefits is challenging, however, and initial claims are frequently denied. For this reason, it is crucial to have an experienced disability attorney at your side.
While one condition alone may not be enough to qualify you, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must consider the combined effect of both major and minor impairments. Our legal team has in-depth knowledge of the eligibility requirements for multiple illnesses and will see to it that you are treated fairly.
From submitting your initial claim to handling your disability appeal, we will stand by you every step of the way, fighting for the benefits you need and deserve. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation.
Evaluating the Combined Effects of Multiple Illnesses
The SSA follows a 5-step process to evaluable disability claims for multiple illnesses. As with claims for one impairment, Step 1 considers whether you are engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), which occurs when your monthly income exceeds the applicable threshold.
If you are not performing SGA, your claim will proceed to Step 2. The SSA will review the medical evidence in your file to determine whether you have a qualifying impairment or a severe combination of impairments. Disability examiners will consider both severe and non-severe impairments.
A severe impairment is one that prevents you from performing work-related physical and mental activities, such as:
- Following directions
- Interacting with coworkers/supervisors
By contrast, a non-severe impairment is considered a slight abnormality that has no more than a minimal effect on your ability to work but can exacerbate other conditions. For example, if you suffer from both a respiratory illness and hypertension, the combination of these impairments may lead to a finding of disability if they prevent you from engaging in work-related tasks. In any event, the medical evidence must demonstrate that you are being treated for your combined impairments.
Are your impairments listed in the Blue Book?
If you are not engaging in SGA and your combined impairments are found to be severe, your claim proceeds to Step 3 in which your combined medical conditions will be compared to the SSA’s listing of qualifying impairments (the Blue Book).
The SSA will consider whether the combined effect of your impairments is medically equivalent to a listing in the Blue Book. The medical evidence in your file must include each of your impairments and your doctor must provide an opinion that your combined impairments prevent you from working.
Do your medical conditions prevent you from performing other work?
If the combined effect of your impairments does not meet the criteria listed in the Blue Book, your claim will proceed to Step 4 where the SSA will assess your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether you can perform the work you did previously. If you cannot do so, your claim will move to Step 5. Here, the SSA will determine whether you can perform another type of work.
In short, your RFC is an assessment of the following limitations:
- Exertional (e.g. lifting, carrying, sitting, standing, walking)
- Non-exertional (e.g. reaching, bending, following instructions, dealing with stress, decision making)
Ultimately, to qualify for benefits your combined illnesses must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in your death.
How a Disability Attorney Can Help Your Claim for Multiple Illnesses
Given the challenges of obtaining disability benefits for multiple illnesses, it is wise to work with an experienced disability lawyer. This is where the Law Office of Carey Thompson can help.
Our legal team will work closely with you and your doctor to provide the necessary medical evidence demonstrating that the combined effect of your impairments is severe enough to prevent you from working.
If your claim is denied, we will handle your disability appeal and advocate for you at the disability hearing. Despite the fact that the majority of initial claims are denied, working with our attorneys increases the likelihood of obtaining the benefits you deserve.
Contact Our Experienced Texas Disability Attorneys
If you suffer from multiple illnesses, you probably have concerns about being able to support yourself and receiving the medical care you need. Trust our disability attorneys to address your concerns by providing you with compassionate, efficient representation and dependable service. We have a well-earned reputation as dedicated advocates of the disabled and will fight tirelessly to protect your rights. Contact our office today so we can start working on your claim.