Social Security Disability Resource Center

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How are medical records and work history used to determine a social security disability claim?

How are medical records and work history used to determine a social security disability claim? This involves the step of the SSD application process in which the claim is handled by a disability examiner at an agency known as DDS, or disability determination services.

After a person A) contacts the social security administration (ideally, by calling or visiting a local social security office), B) has their disability inteview, and then C) has a disability application on file, the claim is sent to disability determination services (in some states, DDS may be known by other names such as the bureau of disability determination) where it is assigned to a disability examiner.

The disability examiner will focus initially on getting the medical records gathered. This occurs on day one of the examiner receiving the claim from the social security office where the intake was done. Using the information provided by the claimant at the time they filed their application for SSD or SSI, the examiner will start sending out letters to the various doctors and hospitals who have provided treatment to the claimant.

Getting the medical evidence gathered is what accounts for the largest portion of the waiting time. And the time required to get the records may amount to just a few weeks or several months. It is not uncommon for disability examiners to have to send multiple requests for records to the same facility, and make multiple follow up calls, and then fax previously mailed requests.

Once the medical records have been received, however, the disability examiner will review them, consult with a medical physician who is assigned to his or her case processing unit, and then determine what the claimant's residual functional capacity is.

The residual functional capacity, or RFC, is a measurement (some would say a guess) as to what the claimant is still capable of doing. For example, are they still capable of lifing 10 pounds frequently, or 50 pounds occasionally? Are they incapable of lifting more than this? Are they unable to sit for more than two hours at a time due to lower back pain? Are they unable to reach overhead, or grasp small objects? Are they unable to remember instructions? Are they unable to get up on ladders due to back issues, vertigo, or epilepsy.

These are the things addressed by a rating of a person's RFC. And bear this in mind that this is for a physical RFC; mental limitations are rated on an MRFC, or mental residual functional capacity, form.

After a disability examiner rates a claimant's RFC, they can then compare this rating to what the claimant did in their past work. Depending on what the claimant's past jobs required of them, and what their current capabilities are, they may be capable of going back to a former job (in which case they would be denied for disability), or unable to do this.

If a claimant is found to be unable to do a former job, then the disability examiner will examine whether or not it is feasible for the claimant to use their acquired skills and education to find some type of other work. When other work is considered, the examiner will also consider the claimant's education and their current level of physical and mental functioning (as rated on their mental and physical RFC assessments).

Medical records and the evidence they contain form the foundation for all decisions on disability claims. However, medical evidence is used in conjunction with the information about a claimant's history of work and the skills they have acquired in the course of their work history. This is only fair considering that individuals who had jobs requiring medium and heavy exertion will be less likely to do these jobs if they have physical limitations and also as they get older.

Additionally, individuals who have fewer transferrable skills will be less likely to find themselves in the position of being able to switch to some new form of employment.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    How Does A Social Security Disability Examiner Determine a Personís Functional Limitations?
    How does Social Security determine if I am disabled or not?
    How are medical records and work history used to determine a social security disability claim?
    How will Social Security Determine if you get Disability Benefits?
    Applying for disability with bipolar, anxiety, and antisocial personality disorder
    Trying to get disability with meniere's, degenerative disc, ankylosing spondylitis, depression, and anxiety
    Social Security Disability and Workman's compensation
    Determining Social Security Disability and SSI eligibility
    What Forms Do You Use to File For Social Security Disability?
    Disability attorneys and RFC forms
    Getting a Disability Lawyer in Minnesota
    Will I need a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Michigan?

    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