Social Security Disability Claims—Who Decides What a Disability Is?

Who Decides What Qualifies as a Disability?

Stressed elderly manIf you have been hurt or are suffering from a serious illness, you most likely have sought medical treatment. If your doctor tells you that you are disabled, that you cannot work because of your condition, do you automatically have a right to Social Security disability benefits? Unfortunately not.

Social Security Disability—Who Decides?

The short answer is that the Social Security Administration decides. Though your doctor’s recommendation may be taken into consideration by SSA officials, the Social Security Administration is self-governing and has absolute discretion to determine what constitutes a compensable disability. The other reality is that, unless your doctor has experience working with patients seeking Social Security disability benefits, there’s a good chance that your doctor doesn’t know or didn’t follow SSA guidelines when making the diagnosis.

The Social Security Administration considers a number of factors when assessing whether or not you qualify for disability benefits, including your age, education and work background. Determinations are typically made on a case-by-case basis.

The Social Security administration defines disability to mean that a person cannot “engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment.” To receive benefits, you must either have been disabled for 12 months, or it must be anticipated that you will not be able to be gainfully employed for at least 12 months. Social Security pays only for total disability—there are no benefits available for either partial disability or short-term disability.

Contact Aronberg, Kouser, Snyder & Lindemann, P. A., Attorneys at Law

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