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 to get Approved for Disability on the Basis of a Back Condition
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
It is certainly possible to receive disability benefits on the basis of a back condition. However, back conditions must be evaluated on the basis of both medical and vocational information. And the degree to which functional limitations exist in a person are often hard to extrapolate simply based on the records provided by a claimant's treating physician.
This is, to some extent, why so many social security disability and SSI disability claims filed primarily on the basis of a back condition are denied. Such claims would be strengthened if the social security administration's approach to deciding claims involved getting medical source statements from a claimant's own doctor, or doctors, in addition to requesting the medical records.
However, this is not done. Typically, medical source statements from a treating physician are only used at a social security hearing, and only after a claimant's disability lawyer has A) requested that the doctor complete the form and B) has sent the form to the doctor's office to complete and return.
Will most doctor's complete this form on behalf of their patient? Most will; however, speaking also as someone who has been involved in the representation of disability claimant's (in addition to being a former disability examiner for social security), it is also true that some doctors will completely refuse to take the time to complete the form and some doctors will only complete the form if they are highly compensated (sometimes charging $200 or more to take the ten minutes needed to fill out the form).
Even when a claimant's treating physician is willing to complete the form (known as a medical source statement, or RFC--rfc stands for residual functional capacity--form) at no additional charge to the claimant, they may only get the form completed after numerous followup calls have been made by the disability attorney who is preparing the case for an upcoming hearing.
Note: Individuals who are considering obtaining a statement from their physician to support their case should probably wait until their case progresses to the disability hearing level. At the disability hearing, an ALJ, or administrative law judge, will be likely to give consideration to the opinion of a treating physician and assign some weight to it. At DDS, the disability examiner is far less likely to give weight to the doctor's opinion, and may even disregard it completely.
Why the difference? In actuality, there should be no difference since the system is federal and, therefore, should be uniform throughout (meaning the decision-making process should not be different at different levels of the system).
However, at the first two levels where decisions are handed out by disability examiners, the process is purely administrative. At the hearing level, the process becomes both administrative and legal (judges pay attention to case law and precedent, while disability examiners simply follow the lead of their managers who set policy in their case processing units and in their respective state agency).
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Topics and Questions
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