Social Security Disability

Social security disability laws were created by congress in order that disabled persons could receive benefits while they could not work. This set of laws were contained in the Social Security Act. The initial definition of disability was a persons inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment.

The burden of proof of a person's inability to work is that it must be medically determinable. This will enable the person seeking benefits to utilize the treating physician's medical records and reports for their benefit.

The first step in trying to be placed on Social Security disability is to see your Doctor. Ask the Doctor if in his or her medical opinion you are disabled from being gainfully employed or disabled from your present job. If the Doctor states that you are disabled, the next step is to go to your local Social Security office and get a disability application, fill out the application, and submit it for approval.

In most circumstances, the initial request will be denied. You will be notified by mail of the result. If you receive a letter informing you of your rights and you disagree with the decision rendered in your case, you can appeal the decision. Careful attention must be given to the appeal process. Any mistakes can render the appeal invalid. If that happens, you may have to start from the very beginning by filling out an application, and again submit it and wait for the determination.

If an appeal is taken, a hearing will be scheduled for your case. At this stage, having an attorney represent you can be helpful. Testimony will be given by the applicant. Testimony will also have to be submitted by the way of medical documentation and deposition transcripts of the treating Doctors. Additionally, friends, family, and acquaintances can testify as to the disability of the applicant. A vocational expert can also be used to show that the applicant's pain would affect job performance and therefore render the applicant unemployable.

Once the applicant is before a Administrative Law Judge who will hear the applicants testimony, the Administrative Law Judge only will decide if the applicant is disabled. Even when a doctor testifies before the Administrative Law Judge, the finding the applicant to be disabled is a conclusion that only the Administrative Judge can render. The testimony presented to the Administrative Law Judge must be evaluated by that judge to determine the credibility of the witnesses, including medical testimony. If the Administrative Law Judge finds the testimony credible, he or she will issue a decision stating something to the affect, "in consideration of all the probative evidence including testimony of the witnesses and treating doctors to the claimants pain and on the observations of the claimant themselves, I find the claimant's allegations to be disabled to be credible." It is a this point that one will start to receive disability benefits.

If the Administrative Law judge finds that the allegations are not credible, then the claimant and/or applicant loses. At this point another appeal can be taken to get another hearing. At this next hearing, new evidence may be presented as to the applicants disability. Finally, an appeal may be taken to the appeals Council. The observations of the Administrative law judge weighs heavily with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will not hear testimony. They will only review the record and not get a chance to see the applicant.

The overall procedure can be lengthy. Numerous hearings can be held by an administrative judge that can last for years. Besides the applicants presentation of the case, the government, the other side in these cases, can present it's own testimony showing that the applicant is not disabled and should not be entitled to disability benefits.

This informational piece was developed by the Law Offices of Herbert Monheit. If you have any additional questions regarding Social Security Disability, please call 1-800-220-LAW1 or e-mail

Law Offices of Herbert Monheit
2010 Chestnunt Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Tel: 800-220-LAW1 (5291) or 215-561-2100