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Proving a social security disability claim

Obtaining an award of social security disability benefits requires the applicant to complete a lengthy application form and to submit information that the Social Security Administration can use to decide whether an applicant is “disabled” within the meaning the governing statute and applicable SSA regulations.

The essential feature of a qualifying disability is that the injury or illness prevents the applicant from working. If an applicant earns more than $1,130 per month, he or she cannot be considered to be disabled. That criterion is explicit, but the others are not always so clear. Proof of inability to work generally requires a doctor’s opinion that the illness injury prevents the applicant from performing either his or her prior job or any other work.

The SSA has an extensive list of various “disabling condition.” If an illness or injury is included in this list, the person is automatically qualified for benefits. However, many illnesses and injuries are not on the list (or are on the list but with higher levels of disability or intensity), and the applicant in such a case must prove that his or her condition is equal in severity and disabling effect to one or more medical conditions on the list. Making this proof can be expected to require the services of a physician or other qualified medical professional to provide an analysis of symptoms, a diagnosis and rating of disability.

This blog cannot provide anything more than a cursory explanation of the methods used to prove a disability claim. Anyone contemplating making an application for benefits should consult an attorney who specializes in pursuing such claims. A knowledgeable SSD claims attorney can assist an applicant in assembling the required information, including the necessary opinions from physicians and others, that can convince the SSA to approve the application.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner,” accessed on March 19, 2015

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