When a Missourian is suffering from an injury, illness or condition that leads to an inability to work, they are fortunate that Social Security disability benefits are available to assist them as they seek treatment and try to improve, if possible. Applicants will have many questions about the benefits’ requirements and what is important when going through the process to get the benefits. For those who are having their case assessed during the sequential evaluation process, one issue they should understand is how the Social Security Administration handles claims in which the person is suffering from multiple impairments.
When a person has one impairment that, when considered on its own, meets the required duration and severity for there to be an approval, the case will likely result in qualifying SSD benefits for injury. If there are multiple impairments, the SSA will consider how they impact the person in combination. There are three categories: unrelated severe impairments; concurrent impairments; and continuing disability review (CDR) cases with a new impairment.
For unrelated severe impairment or impairments, if the person then has another unrelated severe impairment(s), but neither meets the 12-month continuous duration requirement, they cannot be combined to meet the requirement. With concurrent impairments, if there are two or more impairments and they prevent the person from working substantial gainful activity (SGA), it will need to be determined if they combine to meet the 12-month requirement. Should one improve or be expected to improve within that time-frame, the requirement will not be met.
Finally, with CDR, should the claimant have a new impairment that starts during or prior to the month in which the other impairment is not disabling, the disability period will continue. It must be of sufficient severity to prevent SGA and does not need to end in death or last for 12 consecutive months. If, however, there is a new impairment that results in disability and it starts after the month in which the benefits stopped, it must be determined if the new impairment will lead to death or will last for at least 12 consecutive months.
Being approved for and continuing to receive SSD benefits might seem to be complicated, but if the claimant has legal assistance, the process can be much easier. A law firm that understands and can explain the requirements for SSD benefits including when a person with multiple impairments can be approved is critical to a case. Calling for help from a Social Security disability law firm is essential to a claim.