My Doctor Says I'm Disabled. Why Isn't that Enough?

By A. Tereasa Rerko, Esq.

Our clients often ask, "My doctor says that I'm disabled. Why doesn't Social Security approve my disability benefits?" We have to tell them that qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits is a much more complex process than simply having a doctor say the word "disabled".

The decision by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to award benefits focuses on what you are able to do in the competitive job market. To make this decision, the SSA looks at how much you are able to walk, stand, sit, lift, carry, push, pull, and many other such activities. A serious-sounding diagnosis does not necessarily result in an award of benefits, unless that diagnosis affects your personal ability to function at work. Your age is also a factor; the younger you are, the more difficult it will be to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits .

Your doctor may say you cannot return to your job because of your limitations. Is this enough to prevail? Maybe not. Even if you are unable to perform your most recent occupation, you may not qualify for disability benefits, because the SSA looks at any work that you have done within the last 15 years. It then determines if the medical evidence shows that you are able to perform any one of those jobs, even if that job no longer exists.

Even if your doctor has said you are disabled, SSA may still disapprove your application for disability benefits on another basis. Your medical condition does not matter if you do not have enough recent earnings to qualify for disability benefits. In general terms, you must have worked and paid into the system for five out of the last ten years.

The question of whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits is not a simple one. If you think that you may qualify but have been denied, or have not applied for benefits but want to discuss whether or not you should do so, please feel free to contact a Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer via email or phone us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016 and we will review your individual circumstances with you in detail.

For more information on Social Security please visit our expansive Social Security Information Center or our Social Security Frequently Asked Questions.

Related Articles about Social Security Disability and Long Term Disability:

Before We Talk About Your Disability...

I Can't Return To My Job... What Now?

All Disability Policies Are Not Created Equal

A Summary: Long-Term and Short-Term Disability

SSI and SSD - What's the Difference?

Why your Neighbor's Sister's Son is Getting 'Disability' and You're Not

What's the Connection between Social Security Disability and Private Disability Insurance?