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 Social Security Disability Decide if you can Work or Not?

An SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) or SSI disability claim will be determined on the basis of what an applicant's medical records have to say about their condition.

The records are requested by a disability examiner so that the examiner can determine the following: A) what physical or mental limitations, or restrictions, the individual possesses and B) whether or not those limitations make it impossible for the individual to engage in normal activities of daily living, specifically the ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.

This is, of course, a simplified statement of what occurs on a disability case. For example, in addition to gathering the needed medical evidence, the disability examiner will be required to rate the claimant's restrictions on a form and have the rating agreed to by other specialists in the disability examiner's unit.

In the case of a physical condition, the examiner will fill out something known as an RFC form. RFC stands for "residual functional capacity" and it literally translates to "what a person is still capable of doing".

On the RFC form, the examiner will indicate the claimant's lifting capacity, their ability to stand during a normal workday (8 hours), their postural limitations (how well can they balance, crawl, stoop, climb, balance, etc), as well as a number of other physical capabilities.

In the case of one or more mental impairments, the disability examiner will complete an MRFC, or mental residual functional capacity form, which will likewise attempt to rate the claimant's remaining mental functionality.

In either case, the disability examiner will have a consultant within their case processing unit essentially sign-off on the examiner's ratings of the claimant (assuming, of course, that they agree with the examiner's assessment; the consultants are, obviously, part of the examiner's unit to provide some level of oversight and to provide guidance to the disability examiner who is not a medical professional).

For a physical RFC rating, this will be done by a M.D. physician and for a mental RFC rating, this will be done by a Ph.D.-level psychologist, or another M.D. who has practiced as a psychiatrist.

As previously stated, the ratings that are given to a disability claimant are based on the information contained in their medical records. How does social security use this information to decide whether or not a claimant can work? By comparing the claimant's current physical and mental limitations to whatever was required of them in their past jobs.

Social Security Disability Decisions and SSI disability decisions are both medical and vocational in nature. This means that information regarding the claimant's history of employment is used to help determine the claim, as well as the information contained in their history of medical treatment.

Continued at: Social Security Disability, SSI, and Whether or Not a Person can Still Work

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:

How does Social Security Decide if I am Disabled?
How Does Social Security Decide How Much I Get For Social Security Disability or SSI?
How Will Social Security Decide a Disability Case that's filed?
Who will decide my Social Security Disability claim?
Does Your Doctor Decide If You Get Disability Benefits from Social Security or SSI?
How does Social Security Disability Decide if you can Work or Not?
How does Social Security use Evidence to Decide an SSDI or SSI Disability Claim and Make a Decision?
Social Security Disability review question about part-time work
Deadline to file request for disability hearing
If you apply for disability in New Mexico
Getting a Disability Lawyer in New Mexico

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.