Should I Apply for One Illness or Many?

Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) offer financial support to disabled workers and their families. These benefits can take the place of earned income, allowing a family to keep up with bills, cover everyday living expenses, and afford appropriate medical care, even when disability stops one of the primary wage earners from working.

Improving Your Chances of Blue Book Qualification

Most people qualify by meeting or matching a disability listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. Every listing outlines the severity level requirements for approval. While there are dozens of medical conditions in the Blue Book, many applicants can’t precisely meet any of them. When this is the case, the SSA tries to match your medical records and application details to one or multiple listings.

You don’t have to meet any listing exactly. Instead, the SSA may be able to see that the combined effects of your illnesses are a severity level match to a recognized disability. Essentially, the SSA tries to determine if the symptoms and complications of your various illnesses equal one or more listed conditions. If they find your impairments are a severity level match to one or more listings or parts of listings, then they can approve you for benefits.

Applying for Social Security While on Other Benefits

Listing All Illnesses Increases RFC Approval Chances

You can also be approved through a “residual functional capacity” or RFC analysis, which looks at all your limits to determine if you’re unable to work. During the RFC, the SSA reviews your functional impairments, both mental and physical. By providing thorough details about all of your illnesses, the SSA can see the full extent of your daily challenges and all of the things that may stop you from working.

The RFC process requires you complete additional questionnaires. These questionnaires ask for information on everyday tasks, like cooking, cleaning, bathing, shopping, and caring for children or pets. These are what the SSA terms “activities of daily living” or ALDs.

If you have multiple illnesses or impairments that make it difficult for you to complete daily tasks or keep up with ALDs, then the combined effects of these conditions can certainly stop you from working. The limits just one illness places on you may not be sufficient to get you approved. If you thoroughly describe ALL the limits of ALL your illnesses and how they prevent you from working though, then the outcome of the RFC is more likely to be an approval for disability.

Applying for Social Security Benefits

Your doctor can help you understand the medical qualification criteria for disability. He or she can review Blue Book listings to determine if there’s one you may meet or match. Your doctor is also a primary player in an RFC evaluation, and will be asked to complete questionnaires or RFC report forms, similar to those the SSA requires of you.

Whether you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both, you can also get help with your application from a friend, family member, or a Social Security advocate or attorney. If you’re unlikely to meet or match a listed condition, a lawyer can help fight for disability approval, including assisting you with filing appeals, since the SSA may initially deny you benefits.

SSDI applications can be filed online or at your local SSA office. SSI applications however require a personal interview with an SSA representative. These interviews are usually held at branch offices, which you can find SSA’s office locator utility.