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

How does a person get approved for disability benefits?

The decision that is made on your Social Security Disability or SSI disability case will be made on the basis of both vocational and medical information. This means A) the information that is in your medical treatment records and B) your job history, including the the titles of the jobs that you have worked and a detailed description of everything that was done on a particular job. For more information regarding your work history, you may wish to read the following pages:

1. Social Security Disability and the Job that You Worked

2. What does social security mean by past work?

The medical information will, of course, include whatever records are obtained from your doctor or doctors. The social security administration (SSA) has a term for the doctor that has been responsible for treating your specific condition; for example, your family doctor or endocrinologist for diabetes, a psychiatrist or psychologist for depression or bipolar disorder. That term is "treating physician".

Some individuals will have one treating physician and other individuals will have several treating physicians. The treating physician is simply a doctor who has a history of providing treatment to the claimant and is familiar enough with the claimant (with regard to their diagnosis, history of response to treatment, and prognosis) that they can provide a medical opinion as to what the claimant is capable of doing, or not capable of doing, i.e. what their functional limitations are.

However, even though SSA considers that the claimant's treating physician is qualified to provide a medical opinion (either directly through a letter or through what their treatment notes have to say), the outcome of a disability claim cannot necessarily be determined on the basis of a doctor's recommendation.

This works both ways, of course, meaning that a claimant will not necessarily be denied if a doctor states that, in their opinion, their patient IS NOT DISABLED. By the same token, a claimant will not necessarily be approved if their doctor states that their patient IS DISABLED.

How does a person get approved for disability benefits from the social security administration? For a claimant to be approved for disability, the medical evidence must indicate that they have sufficient limitations that make it impossible for them to work (at one of their former jobs or doing some type of other work) and earn a substantial and gainful income. And these limitations are extrapolated from the information contained in A) a claimant's medical records and B) whatever statement a doctor may provide.

However, in cases where statements are offered by a claimant's doctor, the opinion reflected in the physician's statement must be consistent with the medical records. In other words, a statement saying the claimant is disabled will not seem valid to SSA if the doctor's own office notes do not reflect this opinion, or do not indicate that the condition is sufficiently severe enough to rule out work activity.

Note: SSA does not attempt to get statements from treating physicians; these are usually only obtained by disability lawyers at social security hearings.

More at: How to prove you are disabled and win disability.

Essential Questions

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?

Related pages:

The Social Security Disability Approval Process and the Criteria for Decisions
Disability Approval Chances at the Social Security Reconsideration and Hearing Levels
How will you be notified if you receive an Approval for Social Security Disability or SSI
Social Security Disability, SSI Decisions – What Is the Rate of Approval?
The Social Security Disability Approval
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security Disability?
The Medical Vocational Allowance Approval for Social Security Disability and SSI cases
Can you be denied for disability even if your doctor recommends that you be approved?
Will I qualify for disability if I tried to go back to work?

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.