Wheeler & Beaton - A Professional Law Corporation

Question: How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

Answer: By law, Social Security has a very strict definition of disability. To be found disabled:

  • You must be unable to do any substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least 1 year, or be expected to result in your death.
Question: My doctor says I am disabled. Is that enough to qualify me for disability benefits?
Answer: No. You cannot get disability benefits solely because your doctor says you are disabled.
Question: I am getting disability payments from my job or another agency. Can I automatically get Social Security disability benefits?
Answer: No. Social Security disability laws are different from most other programs. For example, Social Security does not pay benefits for partial disability.
Question: How long does it take to make a decision?
Answer: It takes about 3 to 5 months to get a decision. This depends on how much time it takes to get your medical records and any other evidence needed to make a decision.
Question: How does Social Security make the decision?

Answer: Social Security sends your application to a state agency that makes disability decisions. The state has medical and vocational experts who will contact your doctors and other places where you received treatment to get your medical records.

The state agency may ask you to have an examination or medical test. You will not have to pay for any examination or test. If the state does request an examination, make sure you keep the appointment.

Question: If Social Security decides that I am disabled, what types of benefits can I receive?

Answer: Social Security pays disability benefits under two programs:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for insured workers, their disabled surviving spouses and children (disabled before age 22) of disabled, retired or deceased workers.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for people with little or no income and resources.
Question: Can I do anything to speed up the decision?
Answer: Yes. You can speed up the decision by making sure Wheeler and Beaton has current, updated information and reports from your doctors, Medical Source Statements, letters, etc. as medical evidence of total disability.
Question: Where can I get more information?
Answer: You can visit the web site at www.socialsecurity.gov, ask the interviewer during your appointment or call toll-free, 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call TTY 1-800-325-0778)

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California Workers Compensation System http://www.dir.ca.gov/DWC/basics.htm
Social Security / Disability Programs