Social Security Disability Resource Center

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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.

  • 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

    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

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    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
    Will I qualify for disability Benefits in New Jersey?
    Getting a Disability Lawyer in New Jersey

    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