Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Being Determined Medically Disabled for Social Security Disability

Do not assume that because you have been diagnosed with a severe medical condition and received medical treatment for that condition you will be approved for social security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits, even if you have a mountain of medical records to back up your claim.

Why? Because, unfortunately, so many physicians do not understand the kind of evidence that disability examiners (who make decisions for the state disability determination services agency) and federal disability judges (who hear appeals for disability claimants denied benefits by the state) are looking for when deciding disability claims.

It is not uncommon for a physician to treat a patient’s symptoms for months, even years, without making any notations in his or her notes regarding the patient’s real physical or mental limitations. And, without a definitive statement regarding actions that the claimant can no longer perform; such as sitting for long periods of time, typing, lifting, concentrating, focusing on a computer screen, etc., a disability examiner or judge will have no way of determining if you are able to return to your job or perform another type of work.

Disability benefits are meant to provide financial support to those who can’t earn enough to get by. How much is enough? The Social Security Administration (SSA) sets a monthly amount, or standard living wage, known as the SGA (substantial gainful activity). You must be able to demonstrate that you cannot work in any job that would pay you more than that amount. And the only way to demonstrate that you cannot work is to have your physician provide details about the tasks that, because of your impairment, you are no longer able to perform.

Even if you have a signed statement from your physician stating that you are “100% disabled,” or that you are “unable to work,” you will find your claim is likely to be turned down if the physician’s opinion does not detail exactly how your medical condition limits your daily living activities.

So, if you are filing for SSD or SSI benefits, be sure to ask your physician to see a copy of your medical records so that you know exactly what’s in there. If you find no or little mention of your physical or mental limitations, ask your physician to provide you with a residual functional capacity (RFC) statement, listing exactly what types of physical or mental tasks someone with your medical condition can reasonably be expected to perform. You might even want to pick up an RFC form from your local Social Security office and bring it directly to your doctor’s office—it’s really that important.

Remember, all disability decisions are based on medical documentation, and if your medical records do not supply the necessary proof that, not only are you disabled but that you can no longer work, they will do nothing to further your claim for disability.

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

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