How can I win Social Security Disability benefits?

Disability claims that are filed and become approved have certain characteristics in common.

Typically, if the claim was approved at the disability application level, approved on a reconsideration appeal, or even approved at a disability hearing, this means that the claimant had given social security a full list of medical treatment sources and these medical treatment sources (doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics, etc) were able to provide information that--

A) Documented the existence of one or more severe physical or mental impairments (or both) that, in the viewpoint of the social security administration, had made it impossible for the claimant to perform substantial and gainful work activity for at least twelve months, or

B) Documented the existence of physical and/or mental impairments that were severe enough such that they could be projected to eventually have the same effect (rendering the claimant unable to engage in substantial and gainful work activity for at least twelve full months.

You can infer by this brief description of the way that social security views "disability" that the outcome of a claim is highly dependent on two things. One is the information contained in a claimant's medical records. The second is the type of work the claimant has done in the past.

To use an example: John Smith files for disability. His medical records are gathered by a disability examiner at DDS (DDS stands for disability determination services, the agency that makes decisions on disability claims for the social security adminstration) and are evaluated.

If the records indicate to both the disability examiner, and the medical doctor who is assigned to the examiner's processing unit, that John Smith no longer possesses the physical and mental capabilities needed to perform his past relevant work (work that he did in the last fifteen years), and, furthermore, that due to his age, education, and work skills he cannot be expected to successfully switch to some type of "other work", John Smith will be approved for disability.

Because Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims are based on both medical and vocational (job-related) factors, it is very important for claimants to supply the social security administration with complete information about both their medical treatment history and their work history (for at least the prior 15 years). A failure to do this can lead to the denial of a claim.

continued at: What types of information is Social Security Disability looking for?

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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