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

Tips for Getting Disability Approved When you File with Social Security

For adult applicants, Social Security Disability and SSI decisions are made based on a review of the medical evidence, as well as a review of the applicant's work history (for child disability claims replace work history with school records, and achievement and intelligence testing scores).

Medical Evidence

The purpose of reviewing the medical evidence is fairly obvious. Social Security (or, rather, the disability examiner or the administrative law judge who is making the decision on the claim) is looking to see how the condition, or conditions, affect the claimant.

In other words, what are their functional limitations, both physically and mentally? The more limited a person is, of course, the more unlikely it will be that they will be able to return to a past job, or do some type of other work.

Tip 1: Be sure to provide all known sources of medical treatment. Most claimants know that this type of information will be provided on a disability application. However, very often they fail to provide the necessary contact information for each doctor or hospital.

This may be because the claimant assumes that it will be easy for the social security administration (actually, the disability examiner) to track down their medical sources and then send requests for medical records.

However, this is not the case. Disability examiners do have a database they use to identify doctors, clinics, and hospitals, but it is by no means a complete list of all known sources of treatment.

Tip 2: Be sure to provide information regarding the most recent treatment received. A Social Security Disability or SSI approval cannot be made without recent medical evidence. SSA considers recent evidence to be evidence from treatment that has happened within the last 90 days.

The reasoning behind this is clear: without recent evidence, there is no way for social security to know if a claimant's condition is currently limiting enough to satisfy the Social Security administration definition of disability.

That definition, by the way, holds that a claimant's condition must currently impose functional limitations (physical, mental, or both) that are severe enough that the individual cannot be expected to work and earn a substantial and gainful income for a period of not less than one full year.

Tip 3: Be sure to provide treatment information as far back as you can recall. Make sure to do this at least as far back as you are alleging that your condition, or conditions, began. While it is true that SSA cannot award disability benefits without current medical evidence, it is also true that social security cannot award the maximum amount of back pay that a claimant might potentially be eligible for without the necessary medical evidence to document the length of their illness, injury, or condition.

Work History

The purpose of reviewing a person's work history is to identify the jobs they performed and to identify the specific tasks they did on each job. Social Security uses a reference source known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles, to look up each job listed by a claimant. With each job listing comes a description of the job duties, the skill requirements of the job, and the exertional requirements of the job.

Correctly, or incorrectly, matching the job title in the DOT with the information provided by the claimant when they apply for disability is critical--because even similar jobs (such as various truck driving jobs) can have very different skill and exertional requirements.

Correctly identifying a claimant's past jobs can and will have an effect on the outcome of a case and will determine whether or not a claimant is approved...or is denied on the basis of A) being able to return to their past work or B) being able to perform some type of other work.

Tip 4: Always provide detailed information about your work history when you file a claim for disability. Speaking as a former disability examiner and as someone with a history of involvement in claimant representation, I can certainly state that this is an area that many claimants tend to gloss over when they submit their disability application.

But this is not something that should be given short attention. Instead, a person filing for disability should go to lengths to correctly identify their dates of employment, the amount of time they worked each job, their job title, and, just as importantly (probably more), provide a detailed explanation of the duties performed on each job.

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

Related pages:

Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How Long Will It Take To Get Approved for Disability and what determines this?
Can you be approved for disability without having to go to a hearing?
How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?
How To Get Disability Through SSDI or SSI Approved
Is There A Way To Get Automatically Approved For SSI And Social Security Disability?
How Many Times Will Social Security Disability Deny You before You Get Approved for Disability?
What are the Odds or Chances of Being Approved for Disability?
How do you find out if a Social Security disability claim has been approved or even denied?
Can You Get Approved For Social Security Disability if you do not take medication or go to a doctor?
What are my chances of being approved for disability benefits in North Carolina?
Filing for disability with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy
Applying for disability with a cervical spine discectomy and fusion
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
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