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 makes you disabled for SSD, Social Security Disability Benefits, OR SSI?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Social security disability and SSI cases are decided on the basis of a fundamental decision: can the claimant perform work activity that provides a substantial and gainful income? Working at this level is referred to as SGA, or substantial gainful activity. For practical purposes, it means working and earning a certain minimum amount each month (the gross earnings amount that is the current SGA limit can be viewed here: How much can you work and earn before becoming ineligible for SSD or SSI?). In other words, if you retain the ability to work but only at a level that is below the SGA earnings limit that is in effect for a given year, then you may be considered disabled by the social security administration.
The actual definition of disability states that, to qualify for disability, the following must be true:
1. The person filing for disability must have a medically determinable basis for the impairment that they claim to be disabling. What does SSA mean by "medically determinable"? This simply means that the claimant's diagnosis, and the limitations and restrictions that result from their diagnosed condition, must be documented, i.e. proven by medical evidence. This will typically mean medical records obtained from the various doctors who have treated a claimant (but also including hospitals and specialized clinics).
2. The person applying for disability must have a condition that is severe enough to prevent them from being able to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.
3. This level of severity must persist for at least one full year in order for an individual to be awarded disability benefits.
Whether or not a person can engage in substantial and gainful work activity will determine whether or not they meet the qualifications for disability under either the SSD (social security disability) or SSI (supplemental security income) program.
How is it proven that a case actually meets the definition of disability used by the social security administration? If the medical evidence shows that the claimant's current physical and/or mental abilities are not up to the task of doing any of the jobs that they might have done in the past 15 year period (this is what SSA considers to be the relevant work period), then it is possible that they may be approved for disability.
However, the inability to return to a past job is only part of the equation. Once a return to past work is eliminated as an option, a claimant's file (which includes their medical records, statements from a treating physician--referred to as a residual functional capacity statement or medical source statement--work history reports, and questionaires regarding their activities of daily living) must also demonstrate that the claimant lacks the ability to use their education and job training, given full consideration of their age and functional limitations, to do some type of other work.
The inability to work, of course, at a level that allows the individual to earn a substantial and gainful income, must last for at least one full year. If the individual's state of disability does not last for a full year, the claim will be turned down as durational denial.
What happens if a disability claim is denied on the basis of duration, i.e. that the condition was not disabling for long enough a period of time? The claimant may elect to further pursue the claim by following the appeal process. Filing appeals is always preferable to filing a new claim since the filing of appeals will advance the case further along in the system.
The first appeal, the request for reconsideration, is handled in an identical fashion to the disability application and is simply processed by a different disability examiner. And, not surprisingly, the rate of denial on reconsiderations is very high. In fact, the percentage of denials at the recon level typically exceeds 80 percent.
Getting through the recon level, though, allows a claimant to file the second appeal in the SSD and SSI system. That appeal is known as a request for hearing before an administrative law judge. At a hearing, a claimant will, statistically, stand a much higher chance of being awarded benefits, particularly when the case is A) properly prepared and B) properly presented to the presiding judge.
How does the Social Security Disability Appeal Process work?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Winning at a Social Security Disability Hearing
Getting a Social Security Disability Representative for your case
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Topics and Questions
Why Will You be Sent to a Social Security Doctor?
Can my child receive disability for asthma ?
What should you say if you go to a Social Security Exam?
Social Security Disability — when to file
Steps for Filing A Disability Claim Under SSI or SSD
Is getting social security disability easier for mental or physical problems?
Does The Social Security Disability Reconsideration Have A Time Limit?
How do I file for Social Security disability ?
Applying for disability benefits in Massachusetts
How much does Disability Pay?
Social Security Administration Physical Consultative Exam (CE)
What should you get from your doctor to file for disability benefits?
Will you be notified if you receive an Approval for Social Security Disability or SSI
Are children eligible to receive disability benefits ?
How often does someone get disability approved in just a few months ?
How Can You Get Medical Records For A Disability Case If You Have No Insurance?
How to appeal your denial for disability
Qualifying for disability benefits with the social security administration
Will An Attorney Be More Successful On A Social Security Appeal?
What happens if a reconsideration for Social Security Disability or SSI is denied?/a>
How does Social Security Disability decide that you cannot work?
Does social security care if you are working when you are applying for disability?
What does social security mean by disability, i.e. what is the definition?
Social Security Disability Facts
What physicians and claimants should know about social security disability
Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Illinois
How Long Does It Take To Go Before A Judge For Disability Benefits?
Do You Get Cost Of Living Increases If You Receive Social Security Disability Or SSI?
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