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

Criteria for how Social Security Disability is Awarded

Many individuals who apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) are turned down for benefits. In fact, statistics show that about 70 percent of all initial claims for disability are denied, and those that are denied are no more likely to be approved if they file a new application unless they have significant new medical evidence to add to their file, or if their initial claim was denied on a technicality; e.g., they earned too much income, the total value of their personal assets was too great when they filed the first time, etc.

However, there is a way that individuals who are turned down for disability can improve their chances of being awarded SSD the next time around, and that is to take advantage of the disability appeals process.

If your initial claim is denied, you should immediately file a request for reconsideration with DDS (the Disability Determination Services agency that makes all disability decisions for the social security administration). This first appeal is highly likely to be denied as well (about 80 percent of them are), but it is worth the effort because after a reconsideration appeal, a claimant can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).

For those who have been denied disability by DDS, this hearing is the best chance they have of receiving a favorable decision. The House Subcommittee on Social Security has reported that over 60 percent of all cases heard by ALJs result in the disability examiner’s denial being overturned, and the claimant being approved for benefits.

All disability adjudicators (DDS examiners and judges) decide disability cases based on three basic criteria: 1) the claimant can demonstrate, through medical documentation, that they have a physical or mental impairment; 2) that medical symptoms associated with their condition are severe enough to prevent them from participating in substantial gainful activity; and 3) that their medical condition is ongoing, and has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months.

It is impossible to prove any of the three criteria without solid medical evidence, so claimants should take care to supply the social security administration with a detailed medical history that includes names, addresses, and contact numbers for all medical facilities and physicians from which they have received treatment. Without this information, the DDS disability examiner will have difficulty requesting medical records from your physician (s), and this can significantly delay a decision in your case.

After receiving the medical records, the examiner will review them and form an opinion about the claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC), or what activities the claimant is capable of performing given their current medical condition.

The examiner will then go over the work history that the claimant supplied to social security to see if it is possible to perform a past job or any other type of work to which the claimant may be suited, taking into account their age, education, skill set, etc. For this reason it is critical that those applying for disability provide a work history that is every bit as detailed as their medical history. This should include all places and dates of employment, and all positions/titles held (as well as the job duties associated with those positions) for the past 15 years.

By filing detailed medical and work histories and taking full advantage of the appeals process, disability claimants can greatly improve their chances of, eventually, being awarded Social Security Disability.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
Who is eligible for SSI Disability?
Disability Criteria - Eligibility For Social Security and SSI Disability
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
Can you apply for disability on the basis of multiple health problems?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
Inability to Work and Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
If You Are Currently Working Are You Eligible To Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
Will Being A Veteran Affect Your Eligibility And Chances For Social Security Disability?
Are SSD and SSI disability cases decided the same way in terms of Eligibility?
Is the Medical Criteria to Get Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits hard?
Criteria for how Social Security Disability is Awarded
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

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.