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Social Security Disability

Over seventy percent of social security claims are denied the first time. It is important that you have an experienced representative that can guide you through the disability process and increase your chances of winning your claim. We represent adult and child claimants. We can help you obtain the benefits you are entitled to.

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Social Security Disability Explained

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on financial need.

When you apply for either program, your medical records and other information in obtained in order make a decision about whether or not you meet Social Security's definition of disability.

Social Security's definition of disability.

The definition of disability under Social Security Administration (SSA) is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

"Disability" under Social Security is based on your inability to work. You will be considered disabled under Social Security rules if:

  • You cannot do work that you did before;
  • We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers' compensation, insurance, savings and investments.

To decide whether you are disabled, the social security program rules uses a step-by-step process involving five questions. They are:

  1. Are you working?

If you are working in 2010 and your earnings average more than $1,000 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.

If you are not working, we go to Step 2.

  1. Is your condition "severe"?

Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, SSA will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, SSA proceeds to Step 3.

  1. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

For each of the major body systems, social security maintains a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, a decision will have to be made as to whether it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, you will be found disabled. If it is not, they will proceed to Step 4.

Note: There are two initiatives designed to expedite our processing of new disability claims:

    • Compassionate Allowances: Certain cases that usually qualify for disability can be allowed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. Examples include acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and pancreatic cancer.
    • Quick Disability Determinations:  Computer screenings to identify cases with a high probability of allowance
  1. Can you do the work you did previously?

If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then a determination must be made to see if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, proceed to Step 5.

  1. Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, SSA considers if you are able to adjust to other work. SSA considers your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.