Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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).

Continued at:

Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

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?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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