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
Does Your Last Job Determine If You Receive A Social Security or SSI Award?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Your last job does not, in itself, determine if you receive a Social Security or SSI disability award. Social Security uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to make their disability determinations. The last two steps of this process involve an evaluation of your ability to perform work activity or jobs.
Step four considers whether or not you can return to your past work, and step five considers whether or not you can perform some type of other work that utilizes your combination of education and work skills, as well as other vocaational factors such as your age and the physical and mental limitations that you are believed to possess as a result of your condition or conditions (this assessment is made by social security examiners and administrative law judges in the form of an RFC, or residual functional capacity, rating)
How Social Security decisions are different from other types of decisions
Social Security disability determinations are not like short or long disability evaluations from your employer or disability insurance company in that Social Security determinations do not just consider your last job when they make their medical disability decision. Most employer or private disability insurance companies only consider performing your last job.
Social Security considers any relevant job performed in the last fifteen years. Any job that you performed in the past fifteen years that A) you had time to learn, B) lasted three months or more, and C) in which your earnings were at an SGA level, is a relevant job. Part of the disability criteria used by SSA, of course, is determining that, if you are not able to do your last job, i.e. you might be able to do some other job.
It is important to note that at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels, where decisions are made by disability examiners, you may be denied on the basis of the ability to do other work even if that "other work" does not exist in the city or state where you live. Fortunately, at the social security hearing level, judges often bring in vocational experts to more precisely identify other work prospects by analyzing how many suitable "other work" jobs might exist in the economy, and whether or not you could actually obtain one based on the part of the country in which you live.
Disability examiners consider your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do despite the limitations of your impairment) when they evaluate all of your past jobs. They may find you are not able to do any of your past jobs, however that still does not necessarily determine if you will receive Social Security or SSI disability.
The past work evaluation is the fourth step in the five step sequential evaluation process. If the disability examiner is able to rule out all of your past jobs they still must evaluate the possibility, as we've said, that you are able to some other kind of work. The final determining factor of the disability evaluation process is an evaluation of your ability to perform any other kind of job.
Your inability to perform any other kind of work (considering your age, education, job skills, and residual functional capacity) determines if you receive Social Security or SSI disability.
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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