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How Does the Social Security Administration Decide Whether I’m Disabled?

When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), one of the primary factors determining whether you will be able to collect benefits is the determination of whether or not you are considered disabled. Answering that question requires an evaluation by a state agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS determines disability by asking a series of questions. The same questions apply for both physical impairments and mental impairments such as depression or learning problems.

First, the DDS will determine whether your impairment is severe. People who have the same condition, such as impaired vision, could have very different levels of impairment. This step is meant to evaluate whether your impairment creates serious barriers in your life.

Second, they compare your impairment to the official listing in a directory known as the “Blue Book,” which lists many common medical problems. If your symptoms are similar enough to one of the described conditions, you will be considered disabled for the purposes of this part of the test. If your health problems do not match up with one of the listed conditions, you may still be eligible for a medical-vocational allowance.

Third, DDS determines whether you can continue working at your job. Using a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, the DDS decides what types of actions and work you are capable of. They compare the abilities and limitations found in your RFC assessment to the requirements of your previous employment.

Finally, they assess whether you are capable of working at all. Even if you cannot do the work that you did previously, you may still be employable. The DDS considers factors such as your work experience, age and education to decide what work you are capable of. If they find that you could still theoretically work in your condition, you may be denied benefits. If you have been denied, an Oklahoma Social Security attorney can help you appeal.

If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits, hiring a knowledgeable attorney to help you can make the process easier. Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons work with SSDI applicants throughout the Oklahoma City area. Contact us today to arrange your free initial consultation.

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