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Social Security Disability Overview

Social Security Disability Benefits are paid for individuals who have worked for a certain number of years in jobs covered by Social Security. You then must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. Disability is defined by Social Security as:

An inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. 42 U.S.C. Sections 423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(A).

Basically, then in order to qualify for disability, you need to be able to prove that

  • You cannot do the work that you did before;
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical conditions; and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a “severe impairment”. Generally, in order to qualify as “severe” your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.

Once you apply for Social Security disability benefits, Social Security will use a sequential disability evaluation process to determine whether you meet their definition of disability and are eligible to receive benefits. This criteria is described in 20 C.F.R. section 404.1520 as:

  1. The claimant is not engaging in substantial gainful activity; and
  2. The claimant has a severe impairment; and
  3. The impairment meets or equals one of the impairments described in the social security regulations known as the Listing of Impairments; or
  4. Considering the claimant’s residual functional capacity, that is, what the claimant can still do even with his or her impairments, the claimant is unable to do past relevant work; and
  5. Other work within the claimant’s residual functional capacity, considering age, education and work experience, does not exist in the national economy in significant numbers.

Each term in this sequential analysis is very important. Attorney Joseph M. Rooth, can help you navigate through this process in your claim for Social Security Disability Benefits.


The four levels of administrative adjudication of Social Security Disability claims are:

  1. Initial Determination
  2. Reconsideration Determination
  3. Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
  4. Review by the Appeals Council

If you have already applied for Social Security Disability benefits and been denied, then the next stage of the appeal process is called Reconsideration. This is the initial appeal, wherein your request that Social Security review your denial of benefits and see if this can be reversed and benefits awarded.

If the Reconsideration request is denied, then the next appeal is called Request for Administrative Law Judge. This is when you can actually request a live hearing before a Social Security disability judge. The Judge will then schedule a hearing in which you can present evidence, including live testimony, to prove your claim for disability benefits. It is important that you seek representation by an attorney for this step of your claim. You can contact Joseph M. Rooth for any questions regarding your appeal.

In determining whether a person is disabled and entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, Social Security very carefully will consider their age, education and past work experience in addition to their medical impairments. Social Security will consider your age in combination with your residual functional capacity, your education, and your work experience. Your age is a big factor in determining to the extent that this affects your ability to adjust to other work. Generally if you are above age 50, Social Security will consider that your age, along with a severe impairment and limited work experience may seriously affect your ability to adjust to other work. The extent of which this is considered can depend upon your actual age and your past relevant work skills.

Social Security uses tables of rules that they use as guides to evaluate how age, education, and work experience affect a person’s remaining capacity for work. You should consult with attorney, Joseph M. Rooth, to review how this affects your case.

If you feel that you are unable to work, then you should file for Social Security Disability Benefits. You should apply for these benefits if you have been unable to work for at least 12 continuous months or your disability (inability to work) is expected to last at least 12 continuous months. In other words, you do not have to wait until you have been out of work for a year before you apply for benefits.

When you do apply, (either online, by telephone or at your local office) make sure that you provide Social Security with all of your information. Be truthful and do not exaggerate or minimize your disability. List all impairments that effect your ability to work, not just your main problem. Social Security will consider the effect of all of your impairments on your ability to work.

Try to provide Social Security with your medical records if possible. If you are unable to get these yourself, provide Social Security with the names and addresses of your physicians as they will try to request your medical records.

Cooperate fully with Social Security on completing all of their paperwork. Sometimes, Social Security will send you to a physician for an evaluation. Be sure to attend any of these evaluations.

If you are denied Social Security Disability benefits, and you disagree with that determination, then you should contact attorney Joseph M. Rooth, to find out what steps you need to take regarding an appeal. There are time limits associated with these appeals so it is important that you do not wait. One of the biggest mistakes that people make, is failing to appeal their denial. Do not give up. Going through this disability claim process is difficult and time consuming but if you really are not able to work, then you should continue on with these appeals.

Free Lawyer Consultation

To discuss your workers’ compensation or Social Security disability case with me, attorney Joseph Rooth, call 727-849-3400 or fill out the contact form on this site. With offices in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Seminole and Clearwater, I represent clients throughout the Tampa Bay and central gulf coast area.

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