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 are Decisions on SSDI and SSI Disability Claims made by SSA?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Most decisions on SSDI (social security disability insurance) and SSI (supplemental security income) disability claims are made on the basis of a medical vocational allowance. This is the "other type of award decision" that is made by the social security administration. The first is the meeting, or equaling, of the requirements of a listing in the social security administration's impairment listing manual, otherwise known as the blue book.
But satisfying a listing requirement can be fairly tough since the listing criteria is often very specific. And in the case of mental impairments, it can be difficult to actually glean the information necessary to satisfy the various levels of criteria needed to grant disability benefits for (to use an example) an affective or cognitive impairment disorder. which is why it can be helpful when mental health treatment professionals, such as psychiatrists, provide a detailed synopsis and summary of their patient's treatment history: some will even try to submit this type of information in lieu of the actual records.
Most approval decisions that are made by disability examiners (the individuals who work to process disability claims at the initial disability application and reconsideration appeal levels) are vocational allowances because there really isn't enough information in the medical records that "jumps out at them" for a certain physical or mental condition that definitively states "yes, I satisfy this listing" (keep in mind, also, of course, that many conditions are simply not included in the social security list of impairments as well).
However, what is a medical vocational allowance? There are several components to this type of decision. This type of approval is made when the social security administration determines that the applicant cannot do their last job, or any of their past work that was performed within the last fifteen years, while earning a substantial and gainful income.
It also made when the social security administration determines that the applicant cannot do any other type of work for which their age, skills, education, and residual functional capabilities might make them suited.
Finally, this type of decision is made when the social security administration (through a disability examiner, or a judge if the case is at the hearing level) has reviewed all the medical evidence that has been gathered and it has been determined that the applicant's condition has been disabling for a period of not less than one full year.
Why does the social security administration use one year as the benchmark? It may be somewhat arbitrary, but SSA takes the position that if a person's condition has prevented them from being able to work at one of their former jobs, and has prevented (or will prevent) them from working at some form of other work for a full year, it is reliably predictive of their future situation. Even so, SSA will still require individuals who have been approved to receive disability benefits to undergo periodic reviews. These are known as CDRs, or continuing disability reviews, and they occur every few years.
Fortunately, for those who receive disability benefits, the protocol for taking someone off benefits requires that the social security administration prove that "medical improvement" has taken place. And this is is difficult to prove--meaning that most individuals who are put on disability benefits can count on them to be there in the future without interruption.
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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