|Natalia Jofre:||Welcome to the Hill & Ponton Social Security Disability blog. I’m Natalia Jofre. I’m the Social Security section director here at our law firm.|
|Shelly Campbell:||My name is Shelly Campbell. I am the senior social security attorney here.|
|Natalia Jofre:||In a couple of our previous blogs, we’ve talked about the sequential evaluation process, basically the rules Social Security is looking at, which steps, they need to look at your case in order to determine whether you’re disabled or not, and we’re breaking those down. Today, we’re going to talk about severity.|
|Shelly Campbell:||Right. The second step in the process used by Social Security is to determine whether the condition you’re suffering from is severe. By “severe,” Social Security means that the condition affects your ability to work and that it prevents you from working on a full-time basis.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Obviously, it’s almost a subjective finding …|
|Natalia Jofre:||… wouldn’t you find? Because sometimes doctors say, “Your condition is severe enough; you should be found disabled,” and then the person is denied. That’s oftentimes where we come in because clients contact us and they say, “I feel like my condition keeps me from working. My doctor feels like my condition keeps me from working, but yet Social Security is denying me because they’re saying that it’s not severe enough.” It’s one of the main reasons people get denied, wouldn’t you say?|
|Shelly Campbell:||I would say so. You know, there are a number of conditions that are definitely not severe enough to qualify a person from disability, such as a broken toe or something like that, so if those are found to be non-severe, that’s understandable. Like you said, in a lot of cases, people’s conditions are found to be non-severe and they’re denied, although the medical records and the doctors’ opinions say that the individual is disabled and unable to work. That is where we work and help them file an appeal.|
|Natalia Jofre:||I think that one of the biggest disconnects that we find when dealing with Social Security and with claimants is that people are oftentimes very incensed or very frustrated or upset because once Social Security says your condition isn’t severe enough, you don’t qualify for benefits, they give up. They almost feel offended by this finding. I can tell you I know that several years ago we had a client, he was a quadriplegic. He was literally wheelchair-bound, and he was denied not once but twice. We did have to go to a hearing in order for him to be found disabled. Social Security saying that your condition is not severe enough for you to qualify for benefits should not be accepted as fact just because they issue that decision. Those decisions can be appealed, and that’s often actually what we do. A lot of people that are denied at the initial and reconsideration level can eventually be approved at the hearing.|
|Shelly Campbell:||Absolutely. Most cases are approved at the hearing level, where we can be before a judge and explain to the judge why those conditions are severe.|
|Natalia Jofre:||When it comes to severity, there’s different things that Social Security looks at. They have a list called listings with special rules. If you meet those, you can automatically qualify. They also have what are called “compassionate allowances.” A lot of forms of cancer fall under that. Scope of cases, if you have these conditions, these symptoms, you can automatically qualify, but all of that has to be evaluated by someone that knows what they’re doing. Unfortunately, Social Security doesn’t always find people that are disabled under those rules, even if they should.|
|Shelly Campbell:||Right, right, that’s exactly right. If there’s ever a question as to whether or not your disability is severe under Social Security rules and they have concluded that they’re non-severe, you definitely want to seek assistance with your claim.|
|Natalia Jofre:||If you had any questions regarding a disability claim or any of the things that we discussed, feel free to call our office or visit our website, hillandponton.com. Otherwise, look for future blogs on these different steps and how a disability claim can be processed and approved. For now, thanks for watching, and we’ll see you next time.|
|Shelly Campbell:||Thank you.|
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