Complex Impairments Need Attention for Disability Claim

It is worth a reminder that the law requires the Social Security Administration to consider the combined effects of impairments— physical, mental or emotional —when making a decision about disability. The combination of such impairments may be disabling, even though each separately is not.

Too often claimants do not tell Social Security, or even their own doctors, about all of their symptoms. This happens for several reasons. Some people are embarrassed to report emotional problems. Many with chronic illnesses do not realize they also suffer from depression. And, because they do not fully understand the law, they do not realize that a combination of all disabilities and symptoms may add up to winning benefits. A claimant must acknowledge the full extent of an illness to make a disability claim, and this is often a difficult personal step.

Some prescription medicines, particularly psychiatric and pain medications, may create powerful side effects such as fatigue, nausea or impaired concentration. It is important that these side effects be noted in the medical records. In some cases, the side effects of medication may be disabling in themselves, and this needs to be clarified for the decision maker.

We develop all parts of the case evidence completely – this perhaps the most important part of our work representing claimants. 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, along with our analysis and argument of the case.

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