What does the social security administration definition of disability actually say?

What does the social security administration definition of disability actually say? To be considered disabled by SSA, for either substantial and gainful income, or SGA, while doing either one of their former jobs (which could potentially be any of their past work performed within the last 15 jobs), or while doing some type of other work that they might be suited for based on their age, job skills, education, and functional capacity.

So, to recap, to qualify for disability benefits with SSA, your condition must satisfy a one year requirement. It must last this long, or be thought to eventually last this long. The severity of the condition must also rule out the ability to work at a certain level, which is the SGA earning level (see the link in the preceding paragraph to see how SGA is defined). If a condition is this severe, a person may qualify for SSD benefits or qualify for SSI disability benefits.

Proving this level of severity, of course, depends on both the information in the claimant's medical records and on properly presenting the case (particularly at a disability hearing where the burden of gathering evidence and statements from physicians falls entirely upon the claimant and/or their disability attorney).

Many claimants are surprised to learn this because at the disability application level, the social security administration, through a disability examiner who has been assigned to the case, will gather records from all the treatment sources indicated by the claimant on the application. This is also what happens when a different disability examiner processes the claimant's request for reconsideration appeal.

At the hearing level, though, social security does not obtain evidence on behalf of the case. And many claimants who choose to go to their hearing unrepresented do not learn or realize this fact until they actually show up at the hearing office; whereas claimants who have representation will typically have had updated records submitted to the administrative law judge before the hearing occurs.

And, often, a claimant's attorney will continue to work on obtaining additional medical evidence in the form of records or physician statements if such evidence will bolster a case and improve the chances of winning benefits.

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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