Overview of Disability

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How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

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Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

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Disability through SSA

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Working and Disability

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SSDRC Disability Blog

Social Security Disability And SSI Qualifications - What is the examiner looking for?

Disability examiners at Disability Determination Services (the state agency responsible for making Social Security disability determinations) comb through thousands of medical records each year looking for two things: A) objective medical evidence of the severity of alleged impairments as well, as any other impairments not alleged in the disability claim and B) statements as to a disability applicant's functional ability or limitations.

The latter is usually difficult to find as most treating physicians do not include functional capacity evaluations or even statements as to what their patientís specific limitations are. Most statements, if any, are fairly general and do not carry much weight in a disability determination.

This is why the disability examiner working on your disability claim will most likely request that you and your third party (an individual your named during your disability application as someone who knows about your condition and how it affects you) complete an activities of daily living questionnaire (your third party contact person completes a third party questionnaire). These questionnaires are used in conjunction with objective medical information to give the disability examiner an idea of your functional limitations.

While disability examiners go through medical records looking for information as to the severity of impairments and functional capacity, they are also looking at work history. Since Social Security disability involves having a severe medical or mental impairment (or impairments as is usually the case) and an inability to perform substantial work activity (SGA).

Disability examiners are also looking for your relevant work history. Relevant work history is anything in the past fifteen years that involved SGA-level work activity, lasted three months or more, and that an applicant had time to learn the job.

The work information you supplied during your disability interview is most likely not very thorough if you had more than one job in the past fifteen years. As a general rule, you will be sent a work history report form to complete (describe your job duties thoroughly, being careful to give an accurate assessment of the mental and physical demands of each job).

This form allows you to describe many past jobs as you performed them. The disability examiner must look at each of your relevant jobs and determine if you could go back to any of those jobs considering your current limitations or residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite of your limitations).

If they find you are unable to perform any of your past relevant work, they must then consider your ability to do any other kind of work activity given your residual functional capacity, age, education, and job skills.

If the examiner determines that you are unable to perform any other kind of work, you may be approved for SSDI or SSI disability benefits.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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?
Does Social Security take into consideration gross earnings or net earnings?
Will working part-time affect my SSD?

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