Overview of Disability

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How to win Disability

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Disability for Mental

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Disability through SSA

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Working and Disability

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Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

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SSDRC Disability Blog

How does SSA decide you get disability?

The role of the "medical vocational allowance" - Probably the easiest way to define the concept, and illustrate its importance, is to describe how disability decisions get made.

Here's a short, bulleted description of the disability approval process. This description is simplified, but it should provide an understanding of what a medical vocational allowance is.

1. An individual applies for disability at a social security office.

2. The case is transferred by the social security office to a state-level agency that makes decisions on disability claims for the social security administration.

3. At this state agency, the case is assigned to a disability examiner.

4. Generally on the same day that the disability examiner receives the case, he or she sends medical record request letters out to all the various doctors, hospitals, and clinics listed by the claimant at the time of application.

5. After the medical records have been received by the examiner (this may take weeks or months), the examiner will read and evaluate them.

6. The examiner will consider whether or not the claimant has a physical or mental condition that satisfies the requirements of a listing. What is a listing? A listing is any medical or mental condition that appears in the social security impairment listing manual. Impairments that are listed in this manual are given very specific disability criteria for the purpose of approving a claim. Not every condition, however, is contained in the listing manual and even if a claimant has a listed impairment, their medical records may not meet the requirements as set forth in the manual, which can be fairly strict.

7. If a claimant's condition, or various medical conditions do not the requirements of a listing, then the disability examiner will decide what the claimant's functional limitations are (based on reading the medical records) and will record this assessment on a residual functional capacity form. The form will basically indicate what the claimant can still do and what the claimant is incapable of doing physically or mentally (separates forms are used to record mental and physical RFC assessments).

8. If the claimant's residual functional capacity is so restrictive that it makes it impossible for the claimant to do their past and also makes it impossible for the claimant to do suitable other types of work, then the claimant will be approved for disability benefits in either the social security disability or SSI disability program.

9. This type of disability approval, in which a claimant's functional limitations and capacity are compared to A. the work they have performed in the past and B. other types of work they might possibly do based on age, education, and job skills, is called a medical vocational allowance.

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

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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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
What is the status of your social security disability or SSI case
Rules and requirements to apply for disability
Will I qualify for disability?
Apply for disability for any medical condition
Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
If your disability claim is approved or denied
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
How social security evaluates attention deficit
Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
Can you work if you get Disability?
Who qualifies for SSI and how
How to file for disability and where to apply
Conditions that may qualify as disability
Denied on a disability application
Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing