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

How is the Determination for Disability made by Social Security?

How is the determination for disability made by the social security administration? The process used by the social security administration in both programs (SSD, or Social Security Disability, and SSI, also known as supplemental security income) follows the following steps:

1. An individual will file a disability claim with SSA, either:

A) online (not a preferred option since it does not allow for one-to-one contact with a social security representative who can directly answer questions and ALSO since many claims will be concurrent--meaning for both Social Security Disability and SSI--and an SSI disability application cannot be filed online),

B) over the phone with a representative at a local social security office,

C) in person at a local social security office, or D) over the phone via the teleclaims center--again, not a preferred option since a claimant will not have option to meet with, and address questions to, the representative at the teleclaims center.

2. The disability claim will be transferred to DDS (disability determination services) where it will be assigned to a disability examiner. The examiner will request all applicable records (medical records, school records, testing records, and, in some cases, employment records) and once these records have arrived the examiner will begin processing the case.

3. The disability examiner will determine what mental or physical functional limitations exist for the claimant (based on the information contained in the medical and/or school records). These limitations will then be compared to the demands of the claimant's work history and a decision will be made as to whether or not the claimant can return to their past work or perform some type of other work. An applicant who can do neither will satisfy the requirements for disability and will be granted disability benefits.

For a child filing for disability, the determination will be made as to whether or not the child is able to perform age-appropriate activities at the same pace as their peers and, if unable, will also be granted disability benefits assuming that the child also meets the non-medical requirements for disability.

Note: since SSI is a need based program, the child and his or her parents must also fall under certain income and asset level restrictions in addition to satisfying the actual disability eligibility requirements

Individuals who apply for disability, whether this involves an application for a disabled adult, or an application filed on behalf of a child, should understand from the outset that social security will base all decisions on information obtained from medical providers and potentially schools in the case of children, as well employers in some cases.

Though disability examiners do not routinely gather information from past employers this does occasionally happen when the examiner cannot resolve certain questions about a claimant's past jobs from the information supplied by the claimant.

For this reason, it is never a bad idea for a claimant or potential claimant to review their records beforehand to see what information is contained and how it is presented.

In the case of medical records, this may lead to a discussion with one's doctor or doctors as to whether or not the physician might seem inclined to provide a supporting statement, or even to include statements in future medical records as to the possibility of referencing the claimant's functional limitations within the treatment notes created by the doctor (because evidence regarding functional limitations provides the foundation for the approval of a disability claim, or a disability case being denied.

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:

The Steps of The Social Security Disability Determination Process
How is the Determination for Disability made by Social Security?
Appealing A Social Security Disability Determination
Who makes the Determination of a Social Security Disability Claim?
Getting a Social Security Disability Determination After Seeing a Psychologist at a Mental Evaluation
Disability determination services in North Carolina
How does the North Carolina Social Security Disability determination process work?
If you get Social Security Disability and go back to work, do you have to pay anything back?
Filing for disability and switching to other work when you have medical problems
If you apply for disability in in Georgia
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Georgia?

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

How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
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.