How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

The Medical Requirements for Receiving Social Security Disability or SSI

Medical Eligibility Requirements for both Social Security Disability and SSI

To receive either SSD or SSI disability benefits, you must obviously be able to prove that your mental or physical condition is disabling. You prove this by the information contained in your medical records and potentially also by statements submitted by the physicians who have treated you.

Note: the social security administration does not attempt to obtain medical source statements, also known as RFC, or residual functional capacity statements from a claimant's treating physicians. However, if you go to a disability hearing before an administrative law judge and you are represented by a disability lawyer, there is a good chance that your lawyer will attempt to get such a statement to add to your case since it can often make the difference between winning or losing a claim at a hearing).

What does the social security administration mean by "disabling"?

Social security does not take the viewpoint that your condition must render you completely unable to function. It does take the position, though, that your condition must be severe enough that it prevents you from able to work at any job and earn the income limit for SGA, or substantial gainful activity, for a given year. This includes working at jobs you have held in the past, and other jobs that the social security administration may consider you capable of performing based on your medical and vocational profile.

Obviously, then, winning a claim for Social Security Disability or SSI will boil down to specific eligibility requirements, namely proving that you have certain physical and mental limitations that make it impossible for you to engage in work activity while earning SGA-level income.

Proving such limitations is based entirely on extrapolating from the information contained in your medical records, which can be a difficult task considering that most medical records and mental health records make little reference to how the condition actually affects one's ability to engage in and perform normal daily activities.

Winning a disability claim also means properly identifying a claimant's prior jobs and accumulated work skills so that it can be demonstrated that the claimant's functional limitations are not up to the task of going back to a former job or performing some type of other work for which those skills could come into play.

In either case (medical factors or vocational factors), the entire evaluation of a disability claim is largely beyond a claimant's control at the initial claim, or disability application, level. The same is true of the first appeal level, the request for reconsideration. This is because at both levels, the claim is decided by a disability examiner and neither the claimant nor the claimant's disability representative (who can be an attorney or a non-attorney) is significantly involved.

At the disability hearing level, however, the claimant, and the claimant's disability attorney if he or she has one, assume a much greater role. This is because, unlike the prior levels, the claimant will meet the decision-maker (an administrative law judge) at the hearing.

Also, the social security administration no longer gathers medical records on the claimant's behalf once the case moves beyond the first appeal, the request for reconsideration. So, at a hearing, whatever new records are presented, or whatever physician statements are presented, these will have been obtained and submitted by the claimant and/or their disability attorney.

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?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

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

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Who qualifies for disability? - Qualifying is based on evidence of functional limitations
The Social Security Disability Approval Process and the Criteria for Decisions
How does Social Security Disability decide that you cannot work?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
The non-medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
How long does it take to get a decision on disability in California?
How to apply for SSI Disability in California
How much does it cost to hire a Social Security Disability attorney in California?

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