What physicians and claimants should know about Social Security Disability

Practically every person who files for disability benefits understands that their medical records will be used to determine whether or not they are approved. And every physician who becomes aware of a patient's disability application knows, or should know, that the information they furnish to the social security administration may play a large role in deciding the outcome of their patient's claim. However, beyond this, the vast majority of claimants and physicians know relatively little about the approval criteria used by SSA for disability claims.

So,how does one qualify for disability benefits from the social security administration and what must a claimant's records demonstrate in order for this to occur?

For both title II (Social Security Disability) and title 16 (SSI disability) benefits, a claimant must satisfy the following requirements:

1. They must have a severe condition (though SSA has little difficulty differentiating a severe impairment from a non-severe impairment, the process is, still, largely subjective).

2. For the condition to be considered disabling, it must have a duration of at least one year and, in that time, it must limit an individual's ability to work and earn at least a substantial and gainful income while in the performance of past work or suitable other work (as determined by one's age, education, work skills, and rated residual functional capacity).

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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