When is a Medical Condition “Severe” for Disability Eligibility

by Editorial Board on December 15, 2010 · 0 comments

in Questions & Answers,Basics of SSD,Severe Impairments (Step 2),Legal Concepts in SSD

Social Security looks at your severe medical conditions in deciding your disability claim.  Deciding what conditions are severe is step two of the five step disability process. Over time Social Security has changed its view on what counts as severe.  Now the rule is almost a formality.  If a medical condition has even a minimal affect on your ability to work it counts as severe.

In reality Social Security considers nearly all of your medical conditions when deciding your case.  Still, some medical conditions don’t meet the severity requirement.  For example, you might have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or hyperlipidemia.  These conditions can cause severe problems over time, but you might have them under control through diet and medication.

The severity requirement still has a role in the disability determination process.  That role is to simplify your case.  Remember that Social Security decides which of your medical conditions are severe at step two of the five step process.  By taking out conditions that don’t affect your ability to work, the severity rule makes Social Security’s job easier at steps three, four, and five.

Some disability judges still use the severity requirement to deny disability claims.  This allows them to make a quick decision without looking at whether your case meets a disability listing or whether you can do your past work or other work.  If a judge denies your case by deciding your conditions are not severe then it is frequently not hard to get that decision reversed on appeal.

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