How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Qualifications for Disability Benefits and the Types of Evidence Social Security Looks at

If your case is at the initial level, which simply means an application for disability benefits, then the claim will be handled by a disability examiner at an agency known as DDS, or disability determination services. The examiner will render a decision that is based primarily on the medical evidence that is obtained, but which can also be determined by other types of evidence. Those other types of evidence that are gathered and used to determine a claimant's qualifications for disability benefits will depend on whether or not the claimant is a child or an adult.

Filing for children

For a child filing for disability, the evidence will very often also involve school records. This is not just confined to grade reports but IEPs and the results of whatever specialized testing the child has been given, such as weschler intelligence tests or academic achievement tests.

In addition to this, a disability examiner will sometimes try to obtain a completed questionaire from a child's teacher or teachers. Working as a disability examiner myself, it was commonly a part of my case development process to send out a questionaire to each of a child's teacher's simply because A) not all of them would respond and B) as with every disability case, the more information in hand the better the odds of making a good decision which would, hopefully, lead to a disability case being approved (and with as much back pay as possible for the claimant).

Filing for adults

For an adult who is filing for disability, medical records will really constitute the bulk of the evidence. And this would include admission and discharge summaries from hospitals, as well as reports of testing (blood work, diagnostic tests, specialized exams such as neurological examinations, and imaging reports for CT, PET, and MRI scans), and progress notes from individual doctors.

Note: Though hospitals will often send additional medical records such as nurse's notes, these are typically of no use since, as far as the social security administration is concerned, evidence is only valid when it bears the authority of a licensed physician (meaning the signature).

Having said this, though, an adult claim will also require a disability examiner to review the claimant's work history. This is because a decision for a Social Security Disability claim or an SSI disability claim for an adult will ordinarily be what is known as a medical vocational decision.

In short, this means that whether or not a person will be awarded disability benefits as an adult will depend on whether or not they can still, in light of their condition and the mental and/or physical limitations that exist as a result of their condition, engage in work activity. This includes, as most people would guess, their last job. But it also includes potentially any job they have worked in what SSA refers to as the relevant period. And the relevant period goes back 15 years from the time that a person alleges that they became disabled. In addition to this, whether or not a person will be awarded disability benefits will be determined by whether or not they have the ability to do some type of other work

Who qualifies for disability as an adult? These are individuals who are found to no longer have the ability to engage in work activity, either at a job they have done in the last 15 years, or at some new type of work that they might be able to logically switch to (assuming they were not disabled).

At this point, it might seem that the qualifications for disability benefits are extraordinarily hard. However, the process is made easier by the fact that a person's available job opportunities will be taken into consideration when their claim is processed. And what jobs are available to a person will be viewed in light of their education, skills, age, and, especially, the level of physical or mental restrictions (i.e. functional limitations) that they have as a result of their various impairments.

This, of course, is why it is so important for social security to be made aware of all the medical treatment sources that a person has gone to in recent months--as well as several years back--because the more evidence that a disability examiner has the more accurately they can rate a claimant's functional limitations. Which might then lead to the conclusion that they cannot engage in work activity.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Qualifications for Disability Benefits
SSI disability qualifications for Adults and Children
Permanent Disability Qualifications for SSD and SSI
Social Security Disability And SSI Qualifications - What is the examiner looking for?
Social Security Disability Attorney Qualifications and Expenses
What are the disability qualifications in North Carolina?
Getting SSDI but making too much money
Would I eligible for SSD since I was disabled at the time I stopped working?

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.