Combined Impairments Must be Considered

The law requires the Social Security Administration to consider the ccombined effects of impairments— physical and mental or emotional —when making a decision about disability. The combined effects of such impairments may be disabling, even though each illness or condition individually may not be. That is why it is important for medical care providers to put all symptoms in their medical records.

Sometimes people hesitate to file for disability benefits because what they think their major disability is bad, but not severe. And, too, often claimants do not tell either Social Security or their doctors about all of their symptoms. This happens for two main reasons. First, many people with chronic illnesses do not realize they also suffer from something else, like depression. Second, because they do not understand the law, they do not realize that a combination of all disabilities and symptoms may add up to winning benefits.

When we work with clients, we make sure that all the evidence is well developed. First, we question clients closely to make sure that all disabilities and symptoms are recognized. We then work with treating physicians to get reports or letters that fully explain all the conditions affecting their patient. Finally, all evidence is filed with Social Security.