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

Social Security Disability Advice from the Wrong Sources

A conversation with an individual who was contemplating filing for disability revealed that he had been bad advice from multiple sources. One of those sources was his own psychiatrist. Even worse, however, was the fact that the other source of bad direction and advice was from the social security office that he had inquired into applying for disability with.

Let's address the first source. What was said to him by his treating psychiatrist? He was told by his psychiatrist that he was not disabled and could do something else for a living. This advice, of course, was not helpful and not useful.

Speaking as a former disability examiner, the advice could only be characterized as the sort of information that would come from an individual--regardless of the fact that they might be working as a trained treatment professional--who knew nothing about the Social Security Disability program or SSI program (which, from a case processing standpoint, are practically the same program since as far as the medical disability criteria is concerned, what makes one eligible and disabled for one, will satisfy the eligibility requirements of the other.

First, unless a psychiatrist is working for the social security administration as a mental consultant (mental and medical consultants provide consultation and support to disability examiners; technically speaking, disability examiners render decisions on claims.

However, examiners are not medical personnel and have no specific training in this regard), it is highly unlikely that they even begin to understand what the social security definition of disability states and, therefore, what it is that makes a person disabled.

Secondly, because this person's psychiatrist advised him that he could do something else for a living, it even more clearly highlighted how much the psychiatrist did not understand the concept of disability as used by the social security administration.

Social security uses a definition of disability that states that a person must be disabled for at least one full year before disability benefits can be awarded. During that minimum length of time, the person must have functional limitations (physical or mental) that are severe enough to make it impossible for them to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.

This means they must be unable to work and earn a gainful living at their former job. However, it is also means their condition must be severe enough that they cannot return to any of the past work that they have done in the past 15 years.

And it is also means that their condition must be severe enough that they cannot find other employment that utilizes their physical and mental capabilities, age (some jobs will be considered less likely based on a person's age), education, and job training or vocational skills.

It's fairly obvious from the psychiatrist's statements that they were entirely ignorant of how SSA views disability. For SSA purposes, disability means lacking the ability to engage in work activity at a level that enables a person to earn a livable income (perhaps we should say barely livable since the SGA, or substantial gainful activity, limit is very low).

It is also obvious, and painfully so, that the psychiatrist did not recognize that her patient who is currently 59 years old, would not necessarily have a great deal of advantage in seeking employment when pitted against younger job applicants in a competitive job market.

Fortunately, the social security administration does. The medical vocational grid of social security rules makes the prospect of receiving a Social Security Disability award or SSI award a bit easier for claimants who are between the ages of 50 and 54. At age 55, the rules become more favorable yet again.

This is the case due to a realization by the federal government that is rooted in commonsense: as individuals get older, their vocational opportunities will become less.

This is often the case regardless of the quality of a person's resume, or the depth of their skills and training. And it simply becomes a fact that individuals, as they age, will have more difficulty finding new employment and new types of employment (e.g. younger workers can be paid less, for one thing), a situation only considerably aggravated when a physical or mental impairment is involved.

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:

Tips for Getting Disability Approved When you File with Social Security
Tips on how to file for disability
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI
What should you say if you go to a Social Security Exam?
Always list all your various symptoms on your Disability Application
List every medical condition, physical or mental, when you file for disability
Never minimize your pain or other symptoms because this can be used against you
Be ready for your disability application before the process even starts
A Tip for Making a Request for a Disability Hearing
Social Security Disability Advice from the Wrong Sources
Can the Social Security Office give you Bad Advice on a Disability Claim?
Financial Help When You Are Filing For Disability
Social Security Disability For Back Condition pain in California
How much can you make in California and still apply for disability?
Disability requirements and criteria in California

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.