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

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.

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

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?

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