Social Security Disability

How are claims decided? The SSA definition of disabled

     First, SSA refers initial claims to a state disability determination service. It is important that you be able to identify each and every medical provider that has treated you for conditions relating to your impairment. They will request for medical records and in some cases refer you for a medical assessment examination. The purpose of the exam is to determine your residual functional capacity (“RFC”). However, the most important medical assessment comes from your treating physicians, who is your primary medical resource in any SSD application.

Social Security Disability Decisions  

     Under SSA guidelines, multiple factors go into the consideration of one’s disability, including their medical condition, age, education and work history. To qualify for disability benefits, you must have "a physical or mental impairment that is expected to keep you from doing any substantial work (less than $1,090 per month) for at least a year" Generally, the SSA applies a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled.

1. Are you working? You only can receive benefits if you are not substantially employed, which means that you average less that $1,090 per month.

2. Do you have a severe medical condition? Your medical condition must be significant enough that it impairs your ability to perform basic work activities. Minor or temporary injuries do not provide a basis for a SSA disability determination.

3. Does the SSA list your condition as a disabling conditions? Some conditions are already listed by the SSA as disabling, which in most cases means that you automatically qualify as disabled.

4. If you have a severe medical condition that is not listed by the SSA as a disabling condition, can you still perform your prior work position? If you can still perform your position, then you cannot receive benefits. If you cannot perform your prior position then you proceed to the final step 5, which is where must cases are argued on appeal.

5. Can you do any other type of work? Most contested SSA Disability cases revolve around this question, whether based upon your medical condition, age, education and training, you are reasonably able to transfer your skill to less strenuous work. 


After You Receive a Favorable Decision

Upon receiving a favorable award, you become entitled to a retroactive award for the disability period prior to the hearing.  If your application is approved, your first Social Security disability benefits will be paid from the sixth full month after the date your disability began. The SSA pays you this benefit as a lump sum, less any amount withheld for an attorney’s contingency fee.

 You are entitled to receive your monthly disability amount for as long as your remain disabled or until you begin receiving full Social Security Retirement Benefits. The amount of your monthly disability benefit is based on your average lifetime earnings. In some cases, the disability benefit may be offset by other earnings or benefits.