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

The Social Security Disability Decision and Your Ability to Work

If you’re thinking about applying for social security disability (SSD) benefits, you’re probably wondering if you meet the requirements to receive disability income, and just how social security determines who is truly disabled and will be approved for social security disability benefits, and who is still capable of working, and thus will be denied.

To be eligible for social security disability benefits, a claimant must be both unable to perform any jobs held in the past 15 years, and unable to perform any other job based on claimant’s age, education and limitations, due to the stated medical condition.

After an application for disability is filed, it is sent to the state agency in charge of making disability determinations for social security. Some common names for this agency are the bureau for disability determination services, disability determination division/services, etc., depending upon the state.

A social security examiner will then be assigned, and will determine if the claimant is capable of working after evaluating the medical records. Medical records are evaluated to see to how a claimant’s condition limits him or her, physically and/or mentally, and to what extent this limitation affects the claimant’s ability to work. The examiner will then generate a residual functional capacity form (RFC) detailing the examiner’s residual functional capacity assessment, including what activities a claimant is still able to perform; i.e., what work he or she could do despite the existing medical condition.

An RFC is valid only after it is signed by a medical doctor (M.D.) or psychologist (Ph.D.) who is assigned to the disability examiner’s unit. Separate RFCs are generated for physical and mental limitations, although a claimant may have both physical and mental RFCs, depending on their condition.

In short, the disability medical examiner uses medical records to determine residual functional capacity (a claimant’s ability to work), and then writes an assessment, which must be signed by a doctor (or psychologist, if applicable). Based on the RFC assessment, it is determined if a person has the capacity to work, and if the claimant will be denied or awarded disability benefits.

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

Related pages:

Social Security Disability, SSI, and Residual Functional Capacity, RFC
How does a Medical Source Statement (RFC Form) help win a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim?
How does Social Security Disability decide that you cannot work?
Social Security Disability SSI - Mental and Physical Residual Functional Capacity
Medical Vocational Allowance Approvals for Social Security Disability and SSI
Social Security Disability Medical Evaluation Form, Can A Doctor Be Forced to Complete One?
The Social Security Disability Decision and Your Ability to Work
Will my doctor charge me for a letter for my social security disability claim?
Applying for permanent disability with liver disease and a spinal fusion

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