Overview of Disability

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How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

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Working and Disability

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Disability Conditions List

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SSDRC Disability Blog

What types of information is Social Security Disability looking for?

What types of information is social security actually looking for in the claimant's medical records and work history? With regard to the work history, social security is first looking for relevancy. This means jobs that were performed within the past fifteen year period.

Jobs that are older than this timeframe will not be the focus of a disability claim because the work skills that are associated with them may possibly be out of date, or out of demand in the national economy.

However, for jobs that are within the relevant 15 year period, the disability examiner--or the adminstrative law judge if the claim is at the hearing level--will be looking for:

A) dates of employment,

B) job titles, and

C) descriptions of the work performed.

This information may assist the disability examiner in categorizing the claimant's past work.

Why does the claimant's work need to be categorized? Disability examiners try to match the descriptions of jobs provided by disability claimants at the time of the disability application with similar descriptions of jobs in something known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles. Listings in the DOT will inform the disability examiner of the mental and physical requirements of a specific job.

Accurately or inaccurately identifying a claimant's past jobs can have a definite effect on the outcome of a disability claim.

For example, if a claimant states that their primary job for the last fifteen years was "truck driver", but does not provide enough information for the disability examiner to distinguish whether or not the job was really "tractor-trailer-truck driver versus delivery truck driver, then the claimant may place themselves at a disadvantage.

The work involved in being a tractor-trailer-truck driver is considered to be of medium intensity, whereas certain other truck driving jobs require less physically and, thus, are considered to be of light intensity.

Accurate information, or the lack of it, can certainly have an impact on a claim and can push a disability claim toward an approval or a denial. It is fairly easy to see how this applies to work history information because the social security administration is relying completely on the individual who is filing for disability benefits to provide the correct information.

But this also applies to information about the claimant's medical history. For example, though all individuals who file for disability list at least part of their medical treatment sources at the time of application, many applicants fail to list them all. Moreover, many claimants fail to accurately list when their various conditions were first diagnosed as well as how far back their treatment with a specific doctor or hospital goes.

Why are treatment dates so important to a social security disability or SSI disability case? Because of something known as "onset". Onset is basically when a person's state of disability is considered to have begun. When a claimant initiates a disability application and a disability report form (form SSA-3368), they basically give an AOD, or alleged onset of disability. The AOD is when they think their disability began.

However, it's not until a claimant's case has been decided (and approved) that an alleged onset date becomes an EOD, or established date of onset. An established date of onset is when the social security administration considers a claimant's disability to have begun.

This is based on the medical records, and it is also based on the social security administration being able to obtain the earliest possible medical records. Of course, how far back a disability examiner may request records will depend on the earliest dates of treatment provided by a claimant when they submit their paperwork.

To recap, SSD and SSI disability claims are based on medical treatment information and work history information. With both, it is distinctly to the claimant's advantage to provide the most detailed and accurate information.

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

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

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