How Does Social Security Evaluate Disability for SSDI/SSI Benefits?


Posted by: Chris

The Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects thousands of applications for disability benefits every year. The vast majority of these applications are rejected because the SSA decides the applicants are not disabled and therefore not eligible for benefits. But, how is this decision made?

The SSA’s definition of disability is different from other programs. The SSA does not pay for partial or temporary disabilities; only total disabilities are covered. The SSA’s definition of “disability” is based on whether you are able to do a substantial amount of work. They consider the following items as qualifying you as disabled:

  • You cannot work in the same line of work as you did before;
  • You cannot take on other types of work because of your medical condition; and
  • Your disability is expected to last (or has lasted) for one year or will result in death.

The SSA has a list of medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically qualify you as disabled. If your disability is not on the list, then the SSA will decide if it is equal to one of the conditions that are on the list. If they determine that it is, then they will find that you are disabled. If they determine that it is not equal to one of the conditions on the list, there are more steps to take.

Evidence of disability

You will also need to provide evidence of your disability, including current medical records (within the past 60-90 days) that provide evidence of your physical or mental impairment and how your impairment prevents you from working.

If your impairment is physical, the SSA will examine your records to determine if there are functional limitations that prevent you from being able to perform any type of work. For example, your records may indicate that you are unable to lift more than a certain weight limit or are unable to stand for a certain period of time.

If your impairment is mental or cognitive, the SSA will perform a residual functional capacity assessment to determine if you are able to do any type of work. For example, they will look at whether you can follow simple instructions, concentrate on a task, interact well with others, etc.

There are a few special circumstances that apply to some applicants for Social Security disability benefits, including applicants that are blind or have low vision, are the worker’s surviving spouse, a disabled child, or a wounded veteran.

If you are disabled, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our attorneys guide you through the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.