Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

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

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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.

    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