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

What medical background do Social Security Disability examiners have?

As a former disability examiner, I can say this with authority. The answer is None. Disability examiners who issue medical decisions on Social Security Disability and SSI disability cases have zilch medical training.

That begs the question, "What kind of training do disability examiners receive?" Good question. When I was an examiner, the training amounted to six weeks of classroom training on the various body systems and on the basic concepts of disability adjudication. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it?

Does a disability examiner really require true medical knowledge to make medical decisions on disability claims for SSA? I can see it from both sides.

The focus of an examiner's work is identifying the aspects of a claimant's case that indicate whether or not the claimant meets the definition of disability. And that is something a medical doctor off the street would not be able to do, simply because most doctors would have no substantial idea as to how social security adjudicates claims. So, using that reasoning, no, lack of medical training may not be critical to doing the job.

But...it has occurred to me very often that disability examiners would be able to do their jobs better IF they understood more of what they read in a claimant's medical records. It is my firm belief that too much of what a disability examiner reads throughout the course of a day he/she does not truly understand.

At this point, an individual reading this post who is a longtime examiner might have a bad reaction to what I'm saying. But if you are a disability examiner, quickly answer this question --- How many times have you been stuck in your medical consultant's office (these are the doctors that disability examiners work with in order to make decisions on disability cases) and not really understood what they were telling you?

The truth is, if disability examiners had better training, the kind that would allow them to better understand the records they read all day long...they might make better decisions on claims.

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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

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Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
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SSI disability Award Letter
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How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives

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.