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

How are Decisions on SSDI and SSI Disability Claims made by SSA?

Most decisions on SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) and SSI (supplemental security income) disability claims are made on the basis of a medical vocational allowance. This is the "other type of award decision" that is made by the social security administration. The first is the meeting, or equaling, of the requirements of a listing in the social security administration's impairment listing manual, otherwise known as the blue book.

But satisfying a listing requirement can be fairly tough since the listing criteria is often very specific. And in the case of mental impairments, it can be difficult to actually glean the information necessary to satisfy the various levels of criteria needed to grant disability benefits for (to use an example) an affective or cognitive impairment disorder.

Which is why it can be helpful when mental health treatment professionals, such as psychiatrists, provide a detailed synopsis and summary of their patient's treatment history: some will even try to submit this type of information in lieu of the actual records.

Most approval decisions that are made by disability examiners (the individuals who work to process disability claims at the initial disability application and reconsideration appeal levels) are vocational allowances because there really isn't enough information in the medical records that "jumps out at them" for a certain physical or mental condition that definitively states "yes, I satisfy this listing" (keep in mind, also, of course, that many conditions are simply not included in the social security list of impairments as well).

However, what is a medical vocational allowance? There are several components to this type of decision. This type of approval is made when the social security administration determines that the applicant cannot do their last job, or any of their past work that was performed within the last fifteen years, while earning a substantial and gainful income.

It also made when the social security administration determines that the applicant cannot do any other type of work for which their age, skills, education, and residual functional capabilities might make them suited.

Finally, this type of decision is made when the social security administration (through a disability examiner, or a judge if the case is at the hearing level) has reviewed all the medical evidence that has been gathered and it has been determined that the applicant's condition has been disabling for a period of not less than one full year.

Why does the social security administration use one year as the benchmark? It may be somewhat arbitrary, but SSA takes the position that if a person's condition has prevented them from being able to work at one of their former jobs, and has prevented (or will prevent) them from working at some form of other work for a full year, it is reliably predictive of their future situation.

Even so, SSA will still require individuals who have been approved to receive disability benefits to undergo periodic reviews. These are known as CDRs, or continuing disability reviews, and they occur every few years.

Fortunately, for those who receive disability benefits, the protocol for taking someone off benefits requires that the social security administration prove that "medical improvement" has taken place. And this is is difficult to prove--meaning that most individuals who are put on disability benefits can count on them to be there in the future without interruption.

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:

How long does it take to get a decision on Social Security Disability or SSI?
What kind of Final Decision can I receive on my Disability Application?
How are Decisions on SSDI and SSI Disability Claims made by SSA?
How the Decision on a Disability Application or Appeal is Made
Who Makes The Social Security Disability Decision, A Judge Or A Caseworker?
How long does the Social Security judge take to make a decision on a case?
Will an SSI or Social Security Exam help with the Decision?
Can you get a Social Security Disability decision in under a month?
Still Waiting For My Social Security Disability Decision
The average amount of time it takes for a disability decision
Social Security Disability, SSI Decisions – What Is the Rate of Approval?
Social Security On The Record Disability Decisions
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Georgia
Denied Disability Appeal Georgia

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.