Friday, November 5, 2010

Multiple Impairments

Unlike some disability programs, you can receive Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits if the combined effect of all your impairments renders you disabled, even if no single impairment is disabling by itself. I received a notice of award today for a 61 year old former school clerk that illustrates this point.

The claimant’s SSD benefits were approved four months after her application was filed, which is fairly quick. I submitted reports from four of the claimant’s treating physicians that each addressed different impairments. The oral surgeon’s report addressed TMJ, the pain management specialist’s addressed cervical radiculopathy and headaches, the psychiatrist’s addressed mental disorders, and the orthopedist’s addressed herniated cervical discs and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Although the restrictions and limitations that each impairment caused may have been borderline, the combined effect of all of the impairments showed that the claimant was unable to perform any type of work on a full time basis. While the claimant may ultimately have succeeded in obtaining SSD benefits based upon only one doctor’s report, it is highly unlikely that the claimant’s application would have been approved in only four months if all four of the physicians’ reports had not been submitted. The goal in every case should not merely be winning, but winning as quickly as possible.

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