How Do You Get Approved for Disability with Social Security?
You can get approved for social security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits in one of two ways.
1. You can demonstrate, by providing a detailed medical history, that you are suffering from a condition that matches impairments listed in the social security administration (SSA) impairment manual, often called the “blue book.” The manual not only provides legitimate medical conditions, or disability listings, for which disability may be awarded, but also lists the criteria which must be met before this disability is proven.
A number of impairments do appear in this manual, including heart failure, seizure disorder, asthma, etc. However, there are many common ailments not listed, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), and chronic fatigue. Even bipolar disorder and rheumatoid arthritis are not given their own listing in the blue book, but are included as subsets of more broadly defined disorders.
If you do not have an impairment listed in the manual, you may still qualify for disability if you can prove that your condition is disabling to the extent that you are unable to work. This brings us to the second way you can get approved for disability with social security:
2. You receive a medical vocational allowance by demonstrating, again with solid medical records, that you have a condition that keeps you from either returning to your current job or performing another job for which you may be suited, depending on your current physical or mental limitations.
If you are asking for disability benefits based on a medical vocational approval, then your past work history will be given great weight by the disability examiner or judge deciding your case. The examiner or judge in your case will review your medical records to see to what, if any, extent you are able to work despite your current condition. After your residual functional capacity (RFC), or ability to perform work-related tasks, is determined, the adjudicator in your case (either the disability examiner of your application or reconsideration appeal, or the administrative judge at your disability hearing) will review your past work history to see what jobs are available to those in your condition, and if you are qualified to perform any of those jobs. In some cases it may even be decided that you are capable of returning to your current work, with some restrictions, such as no heavy lifting, or with some ergonomic adjustments to your work area.
It is important that you provide a detailed work history to the examiner or judge, so that they do not guess at the duties you performed based on your title alone. The judge or examiner will need to know exactly what you did in the past to decide if your past jobs are truly comparable to those that are being suggested as possible employment options. When providing your work history, you should be especially accurate concerning any job at which you have worked in the past 15 years, or relative period of employment. In addition, jobs held for a year or more are given more consideration than those held for a brief time, so be sure to give special attention to dates, supervisor contact information, and duties associated with long-term positions.
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