Social Security Disability RC

How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
Social Security Disability list of impairments
How to Qualify for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyers FAQ, Disability Back Pay

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

To qualify for disability benefits under either the SSD or SSI disability program, you must prove, through the information contained in your medical records, that you no longer possess the ability to work at a level that would be considered to be substantial and gainful employment.

The definition of disability does not state that a person must be incapable of working. It simply states that a person cannot possess the ability to work and earn at least a certain income level. Therefore, if you file for disability, or currently receive disability benefits, you are allowed to work and have monthly earned income as long as your earnings are below the level of SGA, otherwise known as substantial, gainful activity.

The process of qualifying for disability benefits means that your medical records will be reviewed by the social security administration. From a review of the records, a disability examiner (at the disability application or request for reconsideration level) or an administrative law judge--who specializes in disability claims at social security hearings--will be able to determine what your level of function is.

This is known as residual functional capacity and it will allow the decision-maker to determine if A) you have the ability to do one of your former jobs at the SGA earnings level or B) do some type of other work at the SGA earnings level.

If your functional limitations are great enough, it may be decided that you cannot be expected to return to one of your former jobs (performed within the 15 year period prior to becoming disabled, which is known as the relevant period), and it may be further expected that you cannot switch to some type of other work.

Whether or not you will be expected to go back to a former job or do other work that is based on your age, education, and work skills will depend on how severely limited you are thought to be, based on the information in your medical records.

However, work history is just as important as medical history in the disability evaluation process. A review of your past jobs will allow the decision-maker to determine if you can still work at all.

For example, if your current physical limitations are for light work, and your past jobs have all been sedentary, there is a strong likelihood that you will be denied on the basis of being able to return to your past work.

In another example, if you are limited to light work by the disability examiner or the judge, and your past work was at a medium level, then social security will not be able to deny you on that basis (that you can do your past work).

At that point, the consideration would be whether you have the skills and training to do some other type of work. And at that stage of the process, your age and education, and the physical and/or mental limitations that you possess would also be taken into consideration in what is known as the sequential evaluation process.

To qualify for disability, both your medical history and work history must provide the right information. Your work history must establish what you have actually done in your employment history. This will allow the decision-maker on your claim to discern what it is you may still be capable of doing with regard to work activity. Therefore, you should not make the mistake of supplying only partial or incomplete information about your work history. Instead, be careful to do the following:

1. Give full dates of employment. How long you did a job can determine if it is even relevant to your case.

2. Give accurate job titles. Your jobs will actually be identified in a department of labor publication so that the decision-maker can look up your job's physical and mental requirements and also the skill levels of each job--which may determine if you have the ability to use those skills in other work.

3. Give full descriptions of the work that you performed on each job. While this may seem tedious, good descriptions can help avoid a situation in which one or more of your jobs are misidentified.

Remember, disability examiners and administrative law judges are not vocational experts. And they certainly cannot read your mind. To determine what type of work you did and whether or not you can be expected to go back to that work, or be expected to do another type of work, they will be entirely dependent on the work history information that you provide.

Make no mistake: some individuals are turned down for disability because they failed to give accurate descriptions of the jobs they held. In many cases, this is rectified at a disability hearing where a claimant has a disability attorney who is competent enough to see the mistake that was made earlier. But even when this happens, the result is still many months of wasted time.

Continued at: Qualifying for Disability - What is Social Security Looking for?

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?

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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

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Related pages:

Who qualifies for disability? - Qualifying is based on evidence of functional limitations
How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI, how severe must a condition be?
Can You Qualify for Disability if you did not work much?
How Do You Qualify For Disability without Money To Go To the Doctor?
The Qualification Criteria for Social Security Disability
What If You Did Not Work Long Enough To Qualify For Disability?
Qualifying for Disability - What is Social Security Looking for?
Do You Qualify For Social Security Disability Insurance?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Do You Have To Qualify For SSI Financially?
How does work qualify you for disability? (work credits)
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Arkansas

If you apply for disability in Arkansas

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, 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 homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.