What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
What are the questions that get asked at a social security disability or SSI hearing?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
When you file an application for disability with the social security administration, either under the SSI or social security disability program, you will be asked numerous questions at the time of application regarding your work history, medical history, and medical treatment sources. The answers to these questions will be recorded on your disability report form which will be submitted with your disability application and claim.
All of this information will be then be transmitted by the social security office to a disability determination services agency in your home state (in most states, it is actually known as DDS, or disability determination services) where your case will be assigned to a disability examiner, a specialist who functions similarly to an insurance claim adjuster.
The disability examiner will review your file, obtain additional medical evidence, and then render a decision using the framework of rules and regulations provided by the social security administration. The examiner will also often find it necessary to contact the claimant to ask for additional information regarding the claimant's work or medical history. But, typically, the questions that are asked by the examiner will be a rehash of the information that was obtained at the time of application, and will usually be asked for clarificaition or detail purposes.
When the disability examiner attempts to get additional information, they will do this by either mailing out a questionaire or making a phone call. At a disability hearing before an administrative law judge, the process is different. For one thing, it is face to face in a hearing room where you, the judge, and your attorney will be present. This changes the nature of the process immensely simply because there is immediate personal interaction.
However, the actual questions asked will be different because unlike the first two steps of the process (the disability application and the request for reconsideration appeal, both of which must be completed before a disability hearing can be requested, scheduled, and held), your case has already been built and decided. Not only that, at the hearing, unlike the first two steps, represented claimants have had their attorney submit a considerable amount of medical record updates, hopefully including a medical source statement from their principal treating physician.
What questions get asked by a disability judge? The judge may ask you about your educational background, i.e. your level of education, and any additional training you may have obtained. The judge may also inquire about your work history, questioning you about what duties were performed in certain jobs. If you had periods in which your condition caused you to stop working, or you had periods in which you attempted to go back to work but were unable to stay on the job long, this may be asked about.
Additionally, the judge may very well ask about what is referred to as your ADLs, or activities of daily living. Daily living activities are asked about in the first two steps of the claim process (disability application and reconsideration appeal) as well, and the purpose is simply to gauge how much restriction or limiation your physical or mental condition places upon your ability to engage in what are considered to be the normal and routine activities of daily life.
Now, the questions that are asked at a disability hearing may be asked by the judge, or they may be asked by your disability attorney in an attempt to have your input presented and recorded at the hearing. If you've ever watched court programs on television, you've probably noticed that it is not unusual for one's own attorney to pose questions to them. Of course, it is beneficial for one's disability attorney to discuss in advance of the hearing which questions may be asked by the judge or by the attorney. Not only will this lead to the claimant being better prepared at the hearing, but will also lead to lower levels of discomfort and anxiety during the hearing proceedings. Make no mistake: a disability hearing can be emotionally taxing and draining considering the stakes involved and considering how very long it can take to get to a hearing (very often over two years following the request of a hearing).
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SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials