How To Get Disability Through SSDI or SSI Approved
There are really two different paths to being approved for disability benefits under either the title 2 Social Security Disability insurance program or the title 16 SSI disability program, and although neither one is better than the other, there are differences in the type of evidence that must be supplied before eligibility can be determined and an approval for SSDI disability or SSI disability may be granted.
The first path to winning benefits and becoming eligible for SSDI or SSI is really the more direct and simplest of the two, and that is to prove, through physician diagnosis and documentation of treatment, that you have a medical condition listed in the social security administration (SSA) handbook titled, Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, also commonly known as the blue book.
The blue book lists impairments that the SSA recognizes as disabilities, as well as all of the criteria that an applicant must meet before the SSA will acknowledge that he or she suffers from a specific impairment, or listing. There are some conditions, such as blindness, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and schizophrenia, to name a few, that are so obviously disabling in nature that the SSA will automatically award benefits to an applicant if they can document that they suffer from the condition.
However, it is not easy to become eligible by meeting or equaling the requirements of a listing in the blue book, and if your medical symptoms match some, and not all of the criteria for a listing, you will not qualify for disability in this way. In addition, there are so many common medical conditions that are not listed, such as fibromyalgia, depression, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc., that the majority of disability applicants have to apply for disability based, not on their specific impairment or medical diagnosis, but on how their impairment prevents them from being able to earn a living.
Therefore, most disability applicants will follow the second path to winning disability benefits, and that is to prove, again through solid medical documentation, that they qualify for a medical vocational, or Med-Voc allowance. Disability approval based on the Med-Voc allowance is a bit more involved than approval based on a blue book listing. A Med-Voc allowance is awarded to those with impairments that prevent them from working, not only at their own job but at any other job to which they may be suited. When it comes to a Med-Voc approval, it is critical to supply a detailed work history (names of past supervisors, specific duties, and up-to-date contact information, please), as well as a residual functional capacity (RFC) form to your claims rep.
The work history will be used by the state disability examiner evaluating your claim to determine what types of jobs you might be able to do despite your impairment. The RFC is a statement from your physician detailing exactly what types of tasks, physical and mental, that you can perform despite your impairment. As you can probably figure out here, the Med-Voc allowance is all about proving that, because of your medical condition, you are unable to earn enough to make it without disability benefits.
While it is can be easier to be approved for disability benefits if you meet a listing, it is important to keep in mind that most individuals are awarded Social Security Disability benefits based on a medical vocational allowance. If you do not qualify for a listing, do not get discouraged, but do be ready for a bit closer scrutiny when it comes to your work history and medical records and what they have to say about your ability to earn a living.
The following pages provide additional information:
1. How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
2. How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits
3. Are there ways to avoid being denied for SSI or Social Security Disability?
4. Tips for Getting Disability Approved When you File with Social Security
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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