Social Security Disability FAQs

SS CardThe answers to Social Security Disability questions should not be so hard to find.  Applying for and fighting for Social Security Disability benefits can raise a lot of questions. Here are answers to social security disability questions that are frequently asked during the the Social Security Disability process:

How disabled do I have to be in order to be eligible for social security disability benefits?

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.

If my doctor says I am disabled, is that good enough to receive social security disability benefits?

No. You cannot get disability benefits solely because your doctor says you are disabled.

If I have been found disabled by my disability insurance carrier, am I automatically entitled to social security disability benefits?

No. Social Security disability laws are different from most other programs. For example, Social Security does not pay benefits for partial disability.

How long does it take to make a decision?

It typically takes about 3 to 5 months for Social Security to make an initial decision. This depends on how much time it takes to get your medical records and any other evidence needed to make a decision. However, if your claim is denied and requires a hearing, it takes about 18 months to 2 years to get a hearing date in most situations.

How does social security decide if you are entitled to social security disability benefits?

Social Security will send 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.

Do I need an attorney to help me obtain social security disability benefits?

An attorney is most beneficial at the hearing stage. The attorney will be able to review the medical records and present your claim to the Judge in a fashion to support your entitlement to social security disability benefits.

What Conditions Can Qualify a Person for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Some conditions that may qualify for SSD benefits (as long as the other prongs of the test are met) include:

  • Musculoskeletal problems including fractures, poorly healed bone breaks, soft tissue injuries, spinal arachnoiditis, arthritis, osteoarthrtis, rheumatoid arthritis, hip, neck, shoulder, ankle, wrist, back, or other joint problems, disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, RSI or repetitive stress injury.
  • Conditions for which the etiology is unclear such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue
  • Mental conditions, mental illness, and mental disorders including borderline intellectual functioning, low IQ, mental retardation, learning disability, personality disorder, schizo-affective disorder, schizophrenia, somatoform disorder, autism, asperger’s syndrome, down syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), memory loss, nerves
  • Endocrine related problems including diabetes (type I diabetes, type II diabetes), diabetic peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, diabetes related kidney nephropathy, thyroid problems including hypothyroid disorder, hyperthyroid disorder.
  • Autoimmune disorders including MS (multiple sclerosis), autoimmune hepatitis, type I diabetes (an autoimmune condition), ankylosing spondylosis, coeliac disease, endometriosis, Addisons disease, grave’s disease, narcolepsy, lupus, interstitial cystitis, sjogren’s syndrome, vasculitis, vitiligo, wegner’s granulomatosis, polymyositis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Cardiovascular related conditions such as heart attack (heart attacks are gauged according to how they resolve three months post), arrhythmia (including tachycardia, bradycardia and murmur), ischemic coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure (termed by social security as “chronic” heart failure), cardio hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart), cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, congenital heart defect, blocked artery, cyanosis, syncope, peripheral artery disease (a.k.a peripheral vascular disease), chest pain (angina), cardiovascular disease related to high blood pressure, chronic venous insufficiency, aortic aneurysm (possibly involving renal kidney failure)
  • Neurological conditions such as stroke, coordination, strength, and speech deficits resulting from strokes, epilepsy a.k.a. seizure disorder (including petite mal seizures and grand mal seizures), Lyme disease, TBI or traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, cerebral palsy, Parkinsons disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease), myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral trauma (head injury), migraines, cluster headaches
  • Digestive system impairments including Wilsons disease, GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), peptic ulcer, esophageal varices, ascites, ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, liver disease, pancreatitis, crohn’s disease.
  • Genito-urinary impairments such as kidney disease, kidney problems, dialysis, kidney transplant, nephritic syndrome, ESRD or end stage renal disease.
  • Mood related disorders including bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression and termed by the social security administration as bipolar syndrome, a subset of mood disorders) and depression in all its various forms, such as mild depression, major depression, and dysthymia.
  • Anxiety related disorders including PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and panic attacks.
  • Vision related problems such as low vision, poor peripheral vision (contraction of peripheral fields), decreased visual acuity, macular degeneration, statutory blindness, loss of visual efficiency, and diabetic retinopathy
  • Hearing and speech impairments including hearing not restorable by a hearing aid, inner ear problems (vertigo, Menieres disease), and loss of speech.
  • Respiratory impairments including COPD, emphysema, asthma and asthma attacks, bronchitis, pneumothorax, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary vasculitis, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, cor pulmonale, pneumoconiosis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia, sarcoidosis
  • Hemic and lymphatic problems including lymphedema, chronic anemia, sickle cell disease, polycythemia, lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia
  • Skin disorders such as exfoliative dermatitis, hidradentitis supparativa, psoriasis, exema, and pemphigus
  • HIV and AIDES
  • Neoplastic disorders such as cancer of the throat, cancer of the larynx, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, cancer of the thyroid, Hodgkins disease, sarcoma, malignant melanoma, lung cancer, cancer of the stomach or esophagus, prostate cancer, intestinal cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular and uterine cancer.

How Do I Get Other Answers to Social Security Disability Questions?

We hope these answers to social security disability questions have helped you.  We encourage you to contact Social Security Disability Attorneys Matthew Noyes and Lorrie Robinson if you need answers to social security disability questions not addressed here.  You can call our office at 727-796-8282 or fill out the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.