Friday, October 05, 2007

Social Security Disability Requirements

I've been amazed lately at the number of articles found on the web, written about the social security disability process and the eligibility requirements involved, by people who are not from the U.S. and have no real idea what they're talking about.

Do you have to be from the U.S. to write about the social security disability and SSI disability system? Not necessarily, but, more often than not, it would definitely help.

In fact, I'll go one step further and state that, if you're going to produce articles about the U.S. disability system it would be most helpful had worked within the system at some point and in some capacity.

Now, what does "working in the disability system" potentially include? It would certainly include disability lawyers who handles cases from the disability application level, through the reconsideration and hearing levels, and, possibly through the Appeals Council and federal district court levels.

It would also include competent non-attorney disability representatives, some of whom actually adjudicated (made decisions on) and processed disability cases for SSA, such as former administrative law judges who now provide representation, former disability examiners, and former social security field office claims reps (known as CRs).

All of these individuals would be qualified to write about the U.S. disability system, the non-medical requirements for filing claims, and the medical requirements for being approved for disability benefits.

Now, why am I writing this particular page? Well, I just came across a webpage written by a young woman from India who fits the description I used in the first paragraph of this post. Based on reading her article, I'd have to say her knowledge of the U.S. system is strictly limited to A. what she has read on other websites, and B. what she has managed to misunderstand, regurgitate, and disseminate.

Here's just one issue she mangled: "The Social Security Act has a List of Impairments. If the individual’s impairment(s) fall within that list, he is declared as ‘Disabled’."

Is her statement accurate? Not even close. The SSA impairment listing manual, which is used by disability examiners at the application and reconsideration stages and by an administrative law judge at the hearing level does list a number of physical and mental impairments. But the purpose of each listing is to provide specific approval criteria for those who can "meet or equal" a listing. Simply having a condition that is included in the listings means nothing.

In other words, contrary to the writer's statement, having a listed impairment does not equal being approved for disability.

Fortunately, many individuals who have an impairment that is listed in the blue book but do not satisfy the requirements of the listing are able to win benefits via a medical vocational allowance

Once again, be very careful regarding where you get your information. And, of course, this applies to everything on the web, not just social security disability and SSI.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog