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Who Decides If I Am Disabled and If I Am Entitled to Receive Benefits?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Although Social Security is a federal program, the state you live in is the agency that decides whether you will receive benefits from a claim. State representatives will review the information you have submitted and then they will recommend a decision. It is critical to have all the pertinent medical reasons that you have a claim, and it is usually a good idea to have a Social Security lawyer from our law firm available to make sure all your records are included and relevant to your situation.

The state agency for the Social Security Administration has a defined procedure for evaluating the seriousness and the severity of your medical condition, and the final decision will be based on these analytical steps. Each state uses the same format, and the evaluators use the same basic approach to determine the candidate’s qualifications for compensation.

Steps to Approval

The first thing that qualifies a person for Social Security benefits is that they have to meet the requirements for regular benefits by having earned 40 credits by having worked. This is usually at least a 10-year period. In some cases, because of loss of vision or other severe disabilities, this basic regulation may be waived, but it still has to be determined by the state agency.

Once the basic requirement is met the agency representatives then review your work record. If you are currently working in 2019, and your income is higher than $1,220 per month then you are not considered to be disabled, and your claim will probably be denied. If you are not working, then the claim is forwarded to Disability Determination Services (DDS) for an evaluation of your medical condition.

What Factors Influence the Medical Decision?

If you have a “severe” condition, then you will have to show that for the previous 12 months you have been unable to perform certain work-related activities such as sitting, walking, lifting, standing, or remembering. If you are found to have a “severe” condition then you will probably be approved. To ensure that you fully document your disability the Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have the experience and knowledge to assist you in this preparation.

If you are still able to work the evaluators will consult with a list of medical conditions, sometimes known as the Blue Book, to clearly determine whether you have a condition that will prevent you from earning gainful employment. A medical condition may not appear on this list, but the representatives can consider other options such as those applicants who have very unique illnesses such as acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or pancreatic cancer. Most states also have sophisticated computer programs that can assist in quickly identifying pressing situations.

Final Decisions

The evaluators must determine at some point if you can perform your current work, if you can do a different kind of work, or if you cannot work at all. The amount of the benefit, if any, will depend on the severity of the medical condition. Usually, if it can be found that you can still perform your current job or if you can use your skills to perform a similar job you will be denied benefits.

Final Note

The process to decide whether a person receives Social Security benefits is a systemic approach to ensure equal treatment and valid claims. The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have assisted many people who have claims in meeting federal requirements for benefits. We can provide you with a free consultation if you have any questions. Contact us at or call us at 866-MICH-LAW.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Tristan is a professional writer and had careers as a teacher of English, school administrator, and as a broker in real estate sales. He has gained a great deal of legal experience through his service as the president of a teacher's union, a member of the board for a real estate association, and as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the real estate board of directors. Before beginning a full-time job as a freelance writer, he was the Executive Director of the Global Business Alliance for a local Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber.



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