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
Receiving Benefits - Your Medical Condition and Social Security Disability or SSI
How severe must my medical and/or mental condition be to receive an approval for Social Security Disability benefits? "Severity" is a key component to claims filed under the title II (Social Security Disability) and title 16 (SSI, or supplemental security income) disability programs.
In fact, severity is the first question addressed by the five step sequential evaluation process which is used by both disability examiners (who make decisions on claims at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels) to make medical vocational allowances. Medical vocational allowances are a type of approval, and most claims that are approved are approved in this fashion.
That first step of the process asks the question "Does the claimant have a severe impairment?". If the physical or mental impairment that has been alleged by the claimant on their disability application is not medically determinable according to what is considered by the social security administration to be acceptable medical evidence, or the condition is simply not considered to pose any limitations that would interfere with normal activities of daily living, including work activity, then the condition will generally be classified as non-severe.
In such an instance, the claim would be denied by a disability examiner on the basis of an NSI, or non-severe impairment. Examples of non-severe impairments include minor sprains, cuts, muscle pulls, and even normal pregnancies (believe it or not, people do file for disability on the basis of pregnancy and as a disability examiner I occasionally saw applications such as this).
To receive disability benefits under SSD or SSI, your mental and/or medical condition must affect your ability to work. That is the fundamental benchmark for medical vocational allowances. And this is exactly why, when a person files a claim, the claimant is asked to provide both their medical treatment AND past work histories. The decision-maker on the claim will measure the claimant's ability to work based on how their condition currently limits them, as well as how it may limit them in the future.
If you have not been able to perform substantial work activity due to your condition for twelve months, or you expect to be unable to perform substantial work activity for twelve months, then you should contact Social Security to file for disability.
Substantial work activity is measured by how much a person is able to work and earn. This amount is set by the social security administration and it is basically a cutoff limit for how much a person can earn and still be considered disabled (or not). The actual limit is known as the SGA limit.
Does your specific condition have an impact on your ability to be approved for benefits. It can, if you meet the criteria for a condition listed in the blue book, the Social Security Disability list of impairments.
However, meeting the listing requirements can be difficult, particularly since they require a level of documentation that most claimant's medical records will not be able to provide. This is why, as previously mentioned, most claims are approved on the basis of a medical vocational allowance instead. And, of course, this is why Social Security evaluates your functional ability instead of specific conditions.
What do I mean by functional ability? Functional ability is what you are able to do (normal daily activities or work activity) in spite of your mental and/or medical condition. Therefore, any condition may be considered severe; however your chances of a Social Security Disability or SSI approval depend upon your residual functional ability.
Residual functional ability will be measured by reading and interpreting your medical records to determine what you are still capable of doing and whether or not you can return to your past work or do some form of other work. In other words, RFC, or residual functional capacity is measured based on what your doctors have said about your condition in their notes.
Most treatment notes, of course, are very sparse when it comes to listing a patients's limitations and this may account for why so many claims are denied initially. At disability hearings, however, one of the primary goals of a disability representative or disability lawyer will usually be to obtain a detailed supporting statement from a claimant's treating physician (known as an RFC statement, or medical source statement).
Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
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?
What is considered a Disabling medical condition by Social Security?
Can you File for Disability for more than one Condition?
How Disabling Does A Condition Have To Be For Social Security Disability, SSDI Benefits?
Receiving Benefits - Your Medical Condition and Social Security Disability or SSI
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?
Receiving disability for a mental condition in North Carolina
What condition or conditions qualifies for disability in North Carolina?
Social Security Disability Approvals - Medical Conditions and Getting Approved
Not enough accumulated quarters for disability, what do I do?
If you meet a Social Security Disability listing, can a judge deny your claim?
Applying for Disability in Missouri
Will I qualify for SSI disability in Missouri?
Applying for SSI benefits in Missouri
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.