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 to Qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI in Illinois
Ask anyone who has tried to qualify in Illinois for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI benefits, and you will undoubtedly get the same story: qualifying for benefits is difficult, and takes a long time. In addition, anyone trying to qualify for disability based on a medical condition not specifically listed in the Social Security Disability impairment manual, or “blue book,” as it is commonly called, faces the additional hurdle of having to demonstrate, through medical records and prior work history, both the nature of their condition and that it is truly disabling.
Many commonly recognized ailments, such as depression, asthma, bipolar disorder, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, etc., are not given their own listing in the blue book. However, it is possible to be approved for disability for these and just about any other medical condition, because the focus of disability determination is not so much on the condition itself, but on the level of disability which this condition causes the claimant.
The social security administration (SSA) bases its disability decisions on a claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC) report, which is a medical report that lists what activities a person is or is not capable of doing in light of their impairment. An RFC write up is generated by the disability examiner assigned to a case at disability determination services, the state agency that makes disability determinations for SSA. The disability examiner bases opinions presented in the RFC upon a claimant’s medical records and work history, as well as the input of a physician assigned to his or her unit.
If your RFC supports your claim for disability, you will qualify for a medical vocational allowance, which is the most common way for disability applicants to qualify for benefits. A medical vocational allowance is awarded if it has been determined that you have a medically documented condition that is severe enough to prevent you from working at a former job or at some suitable form of other work for at least 12 months.
The concept of substantial gainful activity (SGA) also comes in to play when determining a medical vocational allowance. SGA is simply the maximum amount an individual may earn each month while still remaining eligible to receive disability benefits (for the current SGA amount, visit this page: How much can you make from work and still be allowed to apply for disability?).
So, when trying to decide if you qualify for social security payments, remember that having been diagnosed by a physician and subsequently treated for a medical condition is only one factor a disability examiner will consider. Far more important than your condition will be the determination of your residual functional capacity, or the extent to which your disability prevents you from making enough money to meet what social security deems to be substantial gainful activity.
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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.