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 does social security mean by disability, i.e. what is the definition?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
The definition of disability used by the Social Security Administration is different from what many applicants and potential applicants might expect. Many individuals mistakenly assume the following:
1. That social security disability and SSI disability provide for temporary disability benefits.
2. That social security disability and SSI disability provide for partial disability benefits.
3. That social security disability and SSI disability are based on a complete inability to work at the individual's last job.
4. That social security disability and SSI disability are based on recommendations from a claimant's physician.
Let's discuss these in order. First of all, the SSD and SSI disability programs do not provide for temporary disability benefits. When a person is approved for disability, the award is granted based on a presumption that the claimant may be permanently disabled. Social Security does have a process for periodically reviewing claims to see if a person remains disabled and, thus, eligible to receive benefits. And this process involves having the claimant go through a CDR, or continuing disability review, every few years. If the review finds that no medical improvement has taken place, the claimant's benefits will be continued. However, even though a review process exists, claims are nonetheless decided on the assumption that a person's state of disability will be long-standing or permanent, and not at all temporary.
Secondly, SSA (the social security administration) does not award claims on the basis of partial disability. That is, if a person loses the use of a limb or an eye, they cannot be approved for benefits on the basis of this alone. They also cannot be approved for a percentage loss of use of a limb, or an eye, or an ear, etc.
Thirdly, SSA does not make decisions on the basis of whether or not a claimant is unable to do their past job. Past work does play a role. However, individuals who are found to be unable to go back to a past job may still be denied on the basis that they can can do something else.
Fourth and finally, SSA does not make decisions based solely on what a person's treating physician has to say about their condition. A medical source statement from a doctor that has a history of providing treatment (i.e. a treating physician) can provide a basis for the approval of a claim. However, this statement must refer to the claimant's remaining level of function (their residual functional capacity, or RFC) and it must also be supported by the physician's own record of treatment.
If a doctor supplies a statement that their patient is totally disabled, but the statement does not provide any information regarding their patient's limitations, then the statement will be practically useless. By the same token, if a doctor provides a detailed statement that supports their patient's claim for disability but this statement is in contradiction to the physician's own treatment notes, then the statement may not be regarded as valid and may be rejected.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
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