Who determines my disability?

Determining DisabilityJust because your doctor says you’re disabled, doesn’t mean that the Social Security Administration will grant you disability. It is a good idea to get a lawyer to argue your case for benefits and present the facts in the most persuasive way possible.

The Social Security Administration judges if you are disabled on three main levels in a disability case.

At the first two levels (the Initial Claim and Reconsideration), disability is determined by a Social Security Disability Examiner that works at a Disability Determination Service. The examiner is the person that reviews your medical records, information provided by your doctor, and any work history.

At the third level (the hearing), an Administrative Law Judge will make this determination. The judge will read your cumulative Social Security file, which contains your medical records, work history, and reasons for your denial. He will also listen to your testimony and may question a medical or vocational expert to make a decision.

To be considered disabled, the Social Security Administration has to decide that your medical conditions render you unable to maintain any substantial work, and isn’t expected to get better in the next year.