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 to get Approved for Disability on the Basis of a Back Condition

It is certainly possible to receive disability benefits on the basis of a back condition. However, back conditions must be evaluated on the basis of both medical and vocational information. And the degree to which functional limitations exist in a person are often hard to extrapolate simply based on the records provided by a claimant's treating physician.

This is, to some extent, why so many social security disability and SSI disability claims filed primarily on the basis of a back condition are denied. Such claims would be strengthened if the social security administration's approach to deciding claims involved getting medical source statements from a claimant's own doctor, or doctors, in addition to requesting the medical records.

However, this is not done. Typically, medical source statements from a doctor are only used at a social security hearing, and only after a claimant's disability lawyer has A) requested that the doctor complete the form and B) has sent the form to the doctor's office to complete and return.

Will most doctor's complete this form on behalf of their patient? Most will; however, speaking also as someone who has been involved in the representation of disability claimant's (in addition to being a former disability examiner for social security), it is also true that some doctors will completely refuse to take the time to complete the form and some doctors will only complete the form if they are highly compensated (sometimes charging $200 or more to take the ten minutes needed to fill out the form).

Even when a claimant's treating physician is willing to complete the form (known as a medical source statement, or RFC--rfc stands for residual functional capacity--form) at no additional charge to the claimant, they may only get the form completed after numerous followup calls have been made by the disability attorney who is preparing the case for an upcoming hearing.

Note: Individuals who are considering obtaining a statement from their physician to support their case should probably wait until their case progresses to the disability hearing level. At the disability hearing, an ALJ, or administrative law judge, will be likely to give consideration to the opinion of a treating physician and assign some weight to it. At DDS, the disability examiner is far less likely to give weight to the doctor's opinion, and may even disregard it completely.

Why the difference? In actuality, there should be no difference since the system is federal and, therefore, should be uniform throughout (meaning the decision-making process should not be different at different levels of the system).

However, at the first two levels where decisions are handed out by disability examiners, the process is purely administrative. At the hearing level, the process becomes both administrative and legal (judges pay attention to case law and precedent, while disability examiners simply follow the lead of their managers who set policy in their case processing units and in their respective state agency).

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

Related pages:

Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
How many Social Security disability cases are approved for back pain?
Get your pain symptoms on record so that Social Security can take this into consideration
Never minimize your pain or other symptoms because this can be used against you
Can I Receive Disability Benefits with Back problems?
Are Social Security Disability Claims Based On Back Pain Usually Turned Down?
Will I Get SSI or SSD Disability With a Ruptured Disc?
SSD and SSI Disability Benefits and Back Pain
Low Back Pain and Filing for Disability
Facts about Herniated Disc and Filing for Disability
How to get Approved for Disability based on a Back Condition
Bulging disc and Filing for Disability

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