Social Security Disability Definitions
Social Security Disability and SSI Overview
The Requirements for Disability
Social Security Disability and SSI Applications
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Disability Denial
Disability Denials and Filing Appeals
Social Security Mental Disability Benefits
Disability Benefits offered through Social Security
Benefits through SSI disability
Disability Benefits for Children
Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify
Social Security Disability and Working
Winning your Disability Benefits
Social Security Back Pay and the disability award notice
Disability Lawyers and Hiring an Attorney
Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions
What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and Medical Evidence
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
The two disability programs administered by the social security administration (social security disability and SSI disability) have different types of eligibility requirements. However, they fit into two distinct categories: medical and non-medical.
Medical Disability Requirements
To be eligible for SSD or SSI benefits, your history of medical treatment must show that you have at least one impairment that could be considered severe. To be severe, it must reduce your functionality; in other words, the impairment must reduce your ability to engage in normal activities of daily living, which, of course, can include work activity. How does the social security administration assess whether or not your physical and/or mental functionality is impaired?
1. Social security will evaluate your medical records, looking through your physician's treatment notes, your lab reports, the interpretations of xrays, MRI scans and CT scans, and hospital admission and discharge summaries to find evidence of functional limitations.
2. Social security, through a disability examiner, will ask you (and often a third-party contact person as well, such as a friend, neighbor, or relative) about the activities that are a part of your normal day. This is done in an attempt to gauge what activities you may have trouble with. For example, disability examiners who are conducting an ADL (activities of daily living) phone call to a claimant will typically ask the claimant how well they are able to prepare meals, do household chores, and take care of personal hygeine tasks.
Some claimants may wonder what such activities have to do with disability. However, many conditions can have an immediate impact on the ability to perform daily activities. For example, a person with reduced grip strength might have difficulty buttoning clothes or picking up cans of food. A person with shoulder problems might have difficulty putting dishes into a cupboard. A person with memory difficulties might have trouble writing bills or making shopping lists.
Asking a claimant (or the person the claimant listed as a third-party contact) about their daily activities can help illuminate exactly how their condition impairs them and reduces their ability to function. This can be taken into consideration when the claimant's residual functional capacity is rated (all claimants are given physical and/or mental ratings of their remaining, or residual, functional capacity). The RFC rating is compared to the functional requirements of the claimant's past work and the requirements of any other work that the claimant might be considered capable of doing.
What makes a person medically disabled under either the social security disability or SSI program? Basically, that they have a severe mental or physical impairment that is severe enough to prevent them from being able to work and earn a substantial and gainful income for at least twelve months. When a claimant satisfies this criteria, they are considered disabled according to the definition of disability used by the social security administration.
continued at: The non-medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria