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
How does Social Security determine if I am disabled or not ?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
The social security administration will determine a claimant's eligiblity to receive disability benefits in one of two ways (and both apply equally to the social security disability or SSI disability program).
The First way - Satisfying the requirements of a listing
If a disability examiner or a disability judge (assuming the case is pending at the hearing level) examines the claimant's medical records and discovers fairly specific evidence regarding the claimant's condition or conditions, the examiner may potentially find that the claimant satisfies the approval criteria of a listed impairment.
What is a listed impairment? This is any mental or physical condition that is listed in the blue book. The blue book, sometimes referred to as the social security disability list of impairments, contains a wide variety of medical conditions, both physical and mental, as well as the criteria that must be found in the claimant's medical records in order for the claimant to be approved on the basis of a listing (such as the listing for ADHD, or the listing for Asthma, or the listing for lupus).
Being approved for disability benefits on the basis of "meeting a listing" or "equaling a listing" (by "equaling", the social security administration means having a comparable level of severity even if the very specific details of the listing are not met) can be difficult. Listings tend to have very specific requirements and the truth is that a claimant's medical records will very often not contain enough detail. Additionally, most medical conditions are not actually included in the listing book, such as carpal tunnel syndrome for example.
The Second way - Being approved for disability on the basis of a medical vocational allowance
Fortunately, for those whose medical records will not be detailed enough to meet or equal a listing in the blue book, there is a second way of being approved for either social security disability or SSI benefits. This way involves the five step sequential evaluation process used by the social security administration and it results in something known as a medical vocational allowance.
When a case is put through the sequential evaluation process (and this will happen unless it is fairly obvious that the claimant has a listing-level medical condition), the claimant's medical evidence will be used to determine how, and to what extent, they are functionally limited. The decision-maker, a disability examiner or a judge, will assess the severity of the claimant's conditions and then rate their functional limitations on either an RFC (residual functional capacity) form, or an MRFC (mental residual functional capacity) form. This rating will then be compared to the demands and requirements of the claimant's past work (social security will look at all relevant jobs within the past 15 years).
The goal, of course, is to see whether or not the claimant can go back to one of their past jobs. If the determination is made that they cannot return to a former job, the decision-maker will then attempt to determine whether or not the claimant can perform some type of other work. If this is also not possible, the claimant will be approved on the basis of a medical vocational allowance (which is referred to as such because the decision will involve both medical and work history information).
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Individual Questions and Answers
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