I recently took a phone call from a client whose disability case had been approved several years ago after a hearing.
Her initial claim was based on physical impairments, but she said that she has now been diagnosed with mental health issues and wanted to know if that might increase the monthly disability benefit that she’s receiving.
The short answer to that question is no. Unlike disability in the Veterans Affairs system, the amount that you receive from Social Security is not based on how many impairments you have, but is instead based more on your past earnings.
Social Security does not issue a rating or percent of disability like the VA does. Either you’re completely disabled from full-time employment, or you’re not in the eyes of the Social Security Administration.
That doesn’t mean that continuing to treat for new health issues and impairments isn’t a helpful, however.
For one thing, you want to maintain your health as much as possible.
But from the perspective of how disability works, continuing treatment is also helpful if you’re case is called for review.
Depending on how old you are and whether Social Security expects any improvement in your condition, you might receive a notice of continuing disability review every couple of years, or even much less frequently than that.
Usually, this just involves filling out a form explaining your current condition and where you are treating, but in a small number of cases, Social Security will threaten to cut off your benefits if they believe your condition has improved. This can even require a brand new hearing.