Before the Social Security Administration (SSA) will approve your claim for disability benefits, you’ll need to prove that you’re disabled. Whether you are attempting to prove that you have a disability that’s on the Social Security Administration’s listing of impairments (“blue book”) or a disability that isn’t found on the list, you’ll need to provide comprehensive, thorough evidence. Here’s what you need to know about how the SSA determines if you’re disabled and the types of evidence you’ll need to provide, regardless of the type of disability you have:
How the SSA Determines if You’re Disabled
The SSA determines if a person meets the eligibility requirements to be considered disabled by looking at five different things:
- You aren’t gainfully employed. If a person is gainfully employed, which means that they are working and earning more than a certain amount of money per month, they will not be considered disabled in the eyes of the SSA.
- Your condition is severe. A condition must be severe in order to qualify as an eligible disability. The SSA considers a condition severe if it prevents the person from engaging in substantial gainful activity and has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
- Your condition is on the adult listing of impairments. If your condition is found within the adult listing of impairments, then you are considered disabled. The SSA assumes all of the conditions within the list to be severe enough to prevent a person from engaging in SSA.
- Your condition prevents you from doing the work you did previously. Does your disability prevent you from doing the job that you did previously, whether that was manual labor, an office job, or something else? If so, then the SSA will just ask one final question; if not, then the SSA won’t consider you disabled.
- Your condition prevents you from adjusting to other types of work. Finally, the last thing that the SSA will ask is whether or not your condition prevents you from adjusting to other types of work. If you can adjust to other work, then you won’t be found disabled.
Your Responsibilities As a Claimant
You’ll need to prove the elements above in order to have your claim for benefits approved. As a claimant, it is your responsibility to provide enough information to the Social Security Administration that it can make a determination about the nature and severity of your disability, the duration of your disability and for how long your disability is expected to last, and whether or not you can do work that is physically or/and mentally demanding as such.
Types of Evidence You’ll Need to Prove Your Disability
In order to help the SSA make a determination about the eligibility requirements and information about your disability listed above, it is your responsibility to provide the SSA with the evidence and documentation it needs. You will need evidence of your symptoms, evidence of the existence of your impairment, and evidence of the severity of your impairment.
- Evidence of your symptoms. You’ll need to prove that you have symptoms related to your condition that prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. It’s important to know that the SSA will do its due diligence in investigating your symptoms, including reviewing your medications, analyzing your daily activities, investigating other treatments you have received, and more.
- Evidence of the existence of your impairment. Of course, you’ll need to provide proof that you have the condition that you claim you do. You must submit objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source in order to establish this. Note that alternative practitioners, such as chiropractors and acupuncturists, do not qualify as acceptable medical sources.
- Evidence of the severity of your impairment. After you have established that you have a condition/disability, then you will need to submit evidence that speaks to the severity of that disability. While you will want to submit any evidence from medical sources that you have, you also should submit non-medical sources of evidence, such as the testimonies of family members, friends, caregivers, employers, neighbors, clergy, and more. You’ll also want to submit your own testimony about the severity of your impairment.
What If the Social Security Administration Asks Me for Additional Documents?
If the Social Security Administration doesn’t have enough information to make a determination about the duration of your disability, the severity of your disability, and whether or not you can do work based on your disability, then it will contact you requesting the specific information it needs. It is important that you cooperate with the SSA and provide evidence as soon as possible.
Will I Be Asked to Submit to a Consultative Exam?
In some cases, claimants may be asked to submit to a consultative exam. A consultative exam is an examination that is conducted either by the claimant’s own doctor, or by an independent doctor who is paid for by the SSA.
The SSA may choose to use an independent doctor when there are inconsistencies in a claimant’s medical record, the claimant or their doctor has specifically expressed the desire to have the exam performed by another medical professional, or the claimant’s medical source is not a qualified medical source (e.g., a doctor who has had their license revoked, or an unlicensed medical professional, or a doctor who is not qualified to offer medical advice about a certain condition). If you are asked to submit to a consultative exam, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Get Help from a Qualified Social Security Disability Attorney
If you are disabled, you deserve Social Security disability benefits. There are few things more frustrating than filing a claim only to have the SSA deny it. At the law office of Byron A. Lassiter & Associates, P.C., our qualified Social Security disability law firm has more than 30 years’ experience representing clients like you. To learn more about how we can help and what your rights are, as well as how to prove different types of disabilities, call our law firm directly at 800-544-3568. You can also visit our law firm in-person or send us a message online.