Social Security Disability Questions

As a disability examiner for the social security administration, and as someone who has been involved in the representation of individuals seeking Social Security Disability and SSI benefits, I have found that many of the questions that claimants are seeking answers to either go unanswered by SSA (the social security administration), or are not satisfactorily answered.

On this page, we will address some of those questions and provide answers that are clear, concise, understandable, and, at the same time, sufficient in detail to explain how certain aspects of the disability application and appeal process work.

1. Filing a Social Security Disability Application - How to file
The following information applies to both the SSDI, or Social Security Disability insurance, program, as well as the SSI, or supplemental security income, program.

2. How can I win Social Security Disability benefits?
Disability claims that are filed and become approved have certain characteristics in common.

3. What types of information is Social Security Disability looking for?
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.

4. How do you get an SSI disability application and Claim started?
Ideally, the best way to get an SSI disability claim started, or to get a Social Security Disability application started, is to contact a local social security office and request that an appointment be made.

5. What are the SSI disability qualifications for Adults and Children?
The SSI disability qualifications are practically identical to the disability qualifications for the Social Security Disability program. That is, they are identical in a medical sense.

6. What is the Social Security Disability List of Impairments?
The Social Security Disability list of impairments is an organized collection of medical impairments for which the social security administration has provided specific approval criteria.

7. What is the Purpose of the Social Security Disability SSI Medical Exam, or CE?
What is the purpose of the consultative examination? Officially, the purpose of any CE (physical or mental) is so that a disability examiner or judge may obtain additional medical record documentation.

8. Social Security Consultative Medical Exams and How they affect Disability Claims
Claimants who receive an appointment letter for a consultative exam should not do the following

9. The Medical Vocational Allowance for Social Security Disability and SSI cases
If you file for Social Security Disability or SSI disability and are approved for benefits, the approval will happen in one of two ways.

10. Is there a list of conditions that might Qualify you for Disability Benefits?
This "Social Security Disability list of impairments" is actually a collection of listings, organized by body systems (i.e. musculoskeletal, neurolical, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovacular, etc).

11. What are the Requirements for Social Security Disability and SSI?
To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits or SSI disability benefits, you must first meet certain non-disability eligibility requirements.

12. The Medical Requirements for Receiving Social Security Disability or 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.

13. What is usually the status of your Social Security Disability or SSI case?
If you call to get the status of your disability claim, nine times out of ten you will be told that your claim is still pending. What does this mean?

14. Do you file for Social Security Disability or SSI?
How does social security determine which disability program you are eligible to receive benefits in? When you initially contact SSA, your social security number will be used to ascertain whether or not you have insured status for title II benefits.

15. Who makes the decision on a Social Security Disability or SSI case?
The answer to this question depends on what level of the social security appeal system your particular claim happens to be at.

16. How does Social Security Disability decide that you cannot work?
How does social security decide whether your can work or not? By evaluating your medical evidence, rating how limited you are, and then comparing this rating to the kind of work you did in the past.

17. Appealing a Social Security Disability or SSI Denial with a Disability Hearing Before an ALJ (Administrative Law Judge)
Why are disability hearings more effective than the first two levels for allowing claimants to win their benefits? There are several reasons for this.

18. What do you do if your Social Security Disability or SSI Claim is denied?
There is really no satisfactory answer to this question other than to appeal. An appeal can be initiated by either contacting the social security administration (SSA), or by contacting your disability attorney if you are represented.

19. What Happens if a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim gets Denied on a Reconsideration Appeal?
If the case was denied at the reconsideration appeal level, the disability lawyer will submit the second appeal that is available to claimants, a request for hearing before an administrative law judge.

20. What are the odds of a judge giving you a disability denial?
The odds of being approved for disability or denied for disability by an administrative law judge will vary depending on several factors. One of those is the judge. Some

21. What is the Role of a Social Security Disability Representative?
The core responsibility of a representative for a Social Security Disability or SSI claim is to maximize the chances of winning the claim. This is why representatives often review the claimant's file prior to the request for a hearing).

22. Responsibilities of the Disability Representative Before and After the Social Security Hearing
The various responsibilities of the disability representative can be summarized as follows.

23. Total Disability - Will Social Security Disability try to determine if a person is totally disabled?
What is total disability according to the social security administration? It is the inability of a person to engage in work activity while earning a substantial and gainful wage for at least one full year.

24. Are there ways to avoid being denied for SSI or Social Security Disability?
There are certainly ways to minimize the chances of being denied for either Social Security Disability or SSI disability. One of those ways is to assist the disability examiner in obtaining evidence for your case.

25. Are the Chances of Winning Disability Benefits Higher at a Social Security Hearing with a Judge?
Disability examiners in every single state have higher denial rates than administrative law judges (who issue decisions at disability hearings).

26. The Sequence of Steps to be Approved for Social Security Disability or SSI
The steps, in order, for being evaluated on a Social Security Disability or SSI claim, are:

27. What is a disability according to the Social Security Administration?
According to SSA, a disability is any condition, or set of conditions, that meets its definition of disability. Whether or not a claimant's case meets this definition of disability, though, is determined by reviewing the claimant's history of medical treatement.

28. Can you file an Internet Appeal for a Social Security Disability or SSI claim denial?
The fourth way to file an appeal of a Social Security Disability denial or SSI denial is to file it online. To do this, you simply visit the social security administration website ( and choose the "disability" tab at the top of the page.

29. What does a Disability Denial Letter from Social Security say?
Denial letters from the social security administration on Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims tend to be fairly generic.

30. What does social security mean by disability, i.e. what is the definition?
The definition of disability used by the Social Security Administration is different from what many applicants and potential applicants might expect. Many individuals mistakenly assume the following:

31. What does the social security administration definition of disability actually say?
To qualify for disability benefits with SSA, your condition must satisfy a one year requirement.

32. 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.

33. Does your chance of winning disability benefits at a hearing depend on the judge you get?
Is there anything that you or your disability lawyer can do if your case is assigned to be heard by a harsh judge?

34. Preparing for a Disability Hearing to Win Social Security or SSI Benefits
Individuals who go to disability hearings in an attempt to win Social Security Disability or SSI disability benefits generally have their best chance of success at this level versus any other level of the system.

35. How does social security define disability?
There are two ways to define disability in terms of how the social security administration views it. The first is to cite the definition used by SSA.

36. Can I work without it affecting my Social Security Disability or SSI?
If you have been approved to receive disability benefits under the Social Security Disability or SSI disability program, you need to be very careful about any work activity you may engage in.

37. What Disabilities Qualify for SSI Disability Benefits?
To be approved for disability benefits via the listings, a person would have to present medical evidence that satisfies the disability approval criteria for a listed impairment.

38. Qualifications for SSI and Social Security Disability
The qualications criteria mandates that their condition must be severe enough that, although they can work, they cannot earn at least a substantial and gainful income (to see the definition of this, see SGA).

39. Medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
How does the social security administration assess whether or not your physical and/or mental functionality is impaired?

40. The non-medical Disability Requirements for SSD and SSI
A non-medical requirement that affects applicants for SSD (Social Security Disability), but does not affect applicants for SSI is insured status.

41. What do you if you get a disability claim denial?
The decision letter will make vague reference as to why the claim was denied; but, it really won't explain in any reasonable amount of detail exactly why the person was given a denial.

42. Social Security Disability, Medical Records, and a Person's Limitations
How do medical records show limitations? That is the problem for most individuals who receive a disability claim denial since most medical records do not indicate the limitations that are suffered by patients.

43. Social Security Denial - What should be done if your disability is denied?
If you receive notification of a social security denial, you should do the following.

44. When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
To qualify for disability benefits, a person's condition (or conditions, and they can be either physical or mental, or more than one of each) must be severe enough that they no longer have the ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.

45. Eligibility for Disability Benefits as Viewed by Social Security
Even when it is determined that a claimant is not currently capable of doing their former work and is not capable of switching to some other type of work, they can still be potentially denied for Social Security Disability or SSI.

46. What Happens If You Miss Your Social Security Disability Application Appointment?
If you miss your Social Security Disability application appointment, Social Security will send you what is known as a closeout letter.

47. How Long Do I Get To Keep My Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits?
You may receive Social Security Disability benefits for a lifetime provided your medical condition has not improved or you have not gone back to work earning above the substantial gainful activity monthly earnings limit.

48. Will Being A Veteran Affect Your Eligibility And Chances For Social Security Disability?
Individuals who are actually receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration are routinely denied for Social Security benefits.

49. Does Social Security Disability Come With Medicaid Benefits?
Social Security Disability is usually associated with Medicare benefits rather than Medicaid benefits.

50. Social Security Disability Lawyers - Fees and Representation Information
Some disability lawyers charge incidental fees whether you win or lose, some only charge them if you win, and some do not charge incidental fees at all.

51. The Levels Of The Social Security Disability and SSI Application and Appeal Process
Social Security Disability and SSI evaluation is a multi level process that begins with an initial disability claim and which could end with a federal court case, or at any of the levels in between.

52. If you are denied for disability, is this based on your ability to do your past work?
The evaluation of Past work is a significant part of the decision process used by the social security administration for determining SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) and SSI.

53. How does Social Security Decide if I am Disabled?
All claims undergo a process known as sequential evaluation.

54. What is a Social Security administrative law judge disability hearing?
The administrative law judge disability hearing is the second "appeal level" in the social security administration's disability appeal system.

55. Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
At a hearing, the responsibility for obtaining medical record evidence (which can include statements from the claimant's treating physician, or physicians if there is more than one) falls on the claimant.

56. Appearing at the ALJ Hearing for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
For most cases, the ALJ disability hearing (where the claimant and their disability attorney may appear in person before an administrative law judge at a hearing office) will be as far as their case goes.