Is There A Way To Get Automatically Approved For SSI And Social Security Disability?

There is no "automatic" way to get approved for SSI and Social Security Disability, though there are disability claims that are approved more quickly than others. Social Security uses the same medical disability process to evaluate all disability claims.

Most disability claims take some time to receive a disability approval; yet, there are some situations that allow for a quick approval for SSI and/or Social Security Disability benefits. For example, if a person files a disability claim on the basis that they have a terminal illness, Social Security has an expedited evaluation process.

In most cases, disability claims that involve a terminal illness are processed in thirty days or less.

Of course, even these disability claims must have medical evidence that supports that the individual has a terminal illness, which means that Social Security must secure objective medical evidence to support the disability applicant's allegation of a terminal illness. Disability claims that involve a terminal illness are the closest to an automatic approval that the Social Security or SSI disability programs have.

Still, some disability claims can be receive an approval for disability quickly, if they meet or equal the criteria of an impairment listing contained in the Social Security Disability handbook. All disability examiners use the disability handbook, "Disability Evaluation Under Social Security", to evaluate medical evidence for their disability decisions.

If a person has a medical condition that is so severe that it meets or equals the severity requirements of an impairment listing, they will be approved medically for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income disability.

I say "medically approved" because all disability applicants must still meet the non-disability requirements of SSI and/or Social Security Disability which, for the most part, involves consideration of income, and specifically in the case of SSI, assets as well.

Most disability applicants do not meet or equal an impairment listing nor are they terminal, which of course means that the disability process can often be lengthy in addition to being far less than automatic.

When a case does not allow for an approval based on a disability listing, the disability examiner (or administrative law judge, depending on the level of the claim)0 will need to review the claimant's medical records to determine their functional limitations (e.g., reduced ability to sit, stand, walk, concentrate, remember, reach, bend, etc, etc).

Once the level of a person's limitations has been assessed on a residual functional capacityassessment, the individual's present capabilities will be compared to their work history to determine if they can go back to a former job, or switch to a new type of employment. Claimants who are found to be unable to go back to their past work (potentially, any of the jobs they have done in the 15 year period prior to becoming disabled) AND who are found to lack the ability to do some type of other work will be found disabled by SSA.

Obviously, the criteria for being awarded disability benefits is fairly strict. In most cases, an analysis of a claimant's medical history and work history will be necessary, which certainly underscores the importance of providing detailed information to Social Security at the time of application.

At a hearing--the majority of claimants who are approved by SSA have found it necessary to go to a hearing after being denied at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels--it may also be necessary to build a compelling argument for approval in light of applicable federal regulations (title 20 of the code of federal regulations), SSRs (Social Security court rulings), as well as the grid rules that direct decisions on cases.

Suffice it to say, winning at the hearing level will often depend on having an astute knowledge of Social Security administrative law and procedure.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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