Proving Disability

Disability caused by listed disorders

Social Security maintains a list of medical disorders so severe that people who have them are automatically eligible for SSD provided they also meet the non-medical eligibility requirements. To document disability based on a listed disorder, you must present detailed medical records that establish the diagnosis and also shows that it is accompanied by clinical findings that are generally present in only the most severe cases. Relatively few people who apply for SSD have listed disorders.

Disability caused by non-listed disorders

If your medical condition has not progressed to the point that it meets the requirements of a listing, you can still qualify for SSD by proving that it prevents you from working. Proof involves evidence that takes your medical condition into account, as well as your age, education and past work experience.

Because no two cases are exactly alike, the proof is critical and unique to each case. For example:

  • A 45 year-old lifelong laborer with a sixth grade education will qualify for SSD by proving that a medical disorder limits him or her to a sit-down job with little or no lifting.
  • A 52 year-old physician or business executive with exactly the same impairment and limitations will probably lose.
  • A 56 year-old sales agent with the same condition will likely win or lose depending on an evaluation of acquired work skills at a hearing before a Social Security judge.

SSD claims regularly succeed or fail based on vocational factors. People often wonder why someone with a seemingly minor medical disorder has qualified for SSD while they are having difficulty doing so. Social Security Attorneys understand that most of the time, it is as important to understand and carefully document relevant non-medical facts as it is to prove the underlying medical disorder and limitations imposed by it.