social security disability


social security disability

Applying for social security disability and SSI benefits, with or without an advocate can be difficult due to how long a claim may take and the high chance of being denied. But those who are denied disability can win benefits by utilizing the appeals process. To increase the chances of winning, applicants should learn about the system and file an appeal when a claim is denied.

To download the Free Physician RFC forms, please scroll to the bottom of the page.


About this site

The purpose of this site is to distribute information that, typically, is impossible to get from the person taking your claim for SSD and SSI benefits. In essence, applying for disability and SSI benefits might as well be a secret process since Social Security does not try to make this information clear or even understandable.

Statistically, seventy percent of all SSD (a.k.a. SSDI) and SSI claims, represented or otherwise, are denied at application. What does this mean for ssd and ssi applicants who are disabled and need help? That they should follow this advice tip: learn everything you can about the benefit approval system to better your chances of winning, with or without the help of a disability attorney or lawyer.

The information, tips and advice presented here can help you understand: 1) How to apply for benefits with the Social Security Administration, 2) How the SSDI and SSI system works, 3) What SSA doesn’t tell you about the application and appeal process, 4) What you can do on your own as a disabled applicant to help your case, 5) When you should consider getting a disability advocate, representative, or attorney and 6) What you should never do that might potentially harm your case.

This is simply the information you should be able to get from a representative at the Social Security Administration, but almost never will.

If you suffer from a medical, psychological, or psychiatric impairment and have initiated or been denied on a social security disability, or ssi, claim for benefits, this site may assist you with your case.

About the Author

The author of this site is Tim Moore, a former Caseworker in the Food Stamps Program, AFDC Program, and Disability-Medicaid Program. Tim Moore is also a former Disability Claims Examiner who adjudicated both Social Security Disability and SSI disability claims for the Social Security Administration, and in a private capacity has also assisted claimants at the initial claim stage, request for reconsideration appeal stage, and disability hearing stage. He initially began the Disability Secrets site as a way to provide answers to questions that claimants kept asking but had difficulty getting plain-english answers to. Originally, the site started as a series of notes written on legal pad and eventually became a simple approach to answering questions about how the disability process really works, from the perspective of a former decision maker. It should be clear, however, that this site focuses on the disability evaluation process including applications, denials, appeals, and awards. Post-approval payment issues are not covered by this site simply because this is not the job of a disability claims examiner. For information on payment issues, it is always best, and safest, to contact a local social security office (not the national toll free line) that can directly access your account and provide accurate and reliable information. Additional information is provided on this site’s Social Security Disability Blog

Social Security Disability Links

* How Long do You Have to be Disabled Before You can get Disability Benefits? 7 days ago
* If Social Security Denies my Disability Benefits, What do I do? 7 days ago
* How Often Should I Call to Check on my Social Security Disability or SSI Case? 7 days ago
* What Should I take with me When I File for Disability? 7 days ago
* When is the Right Time to Apply for Disability Benefits? 7 days ago
* The Social Security Definition of Disability 7 days ago
* What Holds up the Processing of a Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Claim? 7 days ago
* For how long can You Receive Disability Benefits from Social Security? 7 days ago
* What Does Social Security Consider to be a Disabling Impairment? 7 days ago
* The Social Security Disability Determination Process 7 days ago
* Social Security Disability Interview – What it Involves 7 days ago
* Social Security Disability List of Impairments 7 days ago
* What Conditions can You Receive Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Benefits for? 7 days ago
* Social Security Disability When You Can’t Work 7 days ago
* Social Security Disability Forms 7 days ago
* How is SSI Different from Social Security Disability? 7 days ago
* Your Past Work and Social Security Disability 7 days ago
* Social Security Total Disability 7 days ago
* Denied a Second Time for Social Security Disability 7 days ago
* What is a Request for Reconsideration Appeal with Social Security? 7 days ago
* What Happens After Social Security Sends You to Their Doctor? 7 days ago
* What to Bring to a Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Interview 7 days ago
* Social Security Disability and Mental Impairments 7 days ago

SSDI and SSI program issues covered on this website

* Questions about the Social Security Disability SSI Process

* When is a person considered disabled and eligible for benefits?

* When should you apply for disability?

* How do you apply for disability? What are the disability requirements?

* Should you apply for SSD benefits or apply for SSI benefits

* Filing for Disability online – should you file a social security disability application online

* Disability attorneys versus disability advocates

* Are there deadlines for social security disability appeals

* What to do if you denied for social security disability (hint: 99 percent of the time, you should appeal)

* Filing for disability initially versus Filing a disability appeal – what’s the difference?

* How social security disability works – What are the criteria and requirements?

* Winning Disability – what does it take to win on an application or at a hearing?

* Who is eligible for SSI and who is eligible for social security disability?

* How do you get your Social Security Disability status or SSI case status?

* Filing for SSI – what do you need to bring with you at the interview?

* What do social security lawyers do to prepare and win cases?

* Do I have to be completely incapacitated, permanently disabled to get Disability?

* The social security administration disability page

* How to get awarded disability at the lower levels

* Social Security Disability and Working

* Social Security Disability Filing

* Where do I find social security disability forms?

* How much do you pay social security disability lawyers?

* Can you win a social security disability appeal?

* Can you file a social security disability benefits application online?

* Can you apply for social security disability benefits for children?

* Are SSI disability benefits different than SSDI disability benefits?

* How is social security income and social security back pay determined?


Medical or mental disability can be awarded for any of the following conditions

* Musculoskeletal problems including fractures, poorly healed bone breaks, soft tissue injuries, spinal arachnoiditis, arthritis, osteoarthrtis, rheumatoid arthritis, hip, neck, shoulder, ankle, wrist, back, or other joint problems, disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fascitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, RSI or repetitive stress injury.

* Endocrine related problems including diabetes (type I diabetes, type II diabetes), diabetic peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, diabetes related kidney nephropathy, thyroid problems including hypothryoid disorder, hyperthyroid disorder,

* Autoimmune disorders including MS (multiple sclerosis), autoimmune hepatitis, type I diabetes (an autoimmune condition), ankylosing spondylitis, coeliac disease, endometriosis, addison’s disease, grave’s disease, narcolepsy, lupus, interstitial cystitis, sjogren’s syndrome, vasculitis, vitiligo, wegner’s granulomatosis, polymyositis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

* Cardiovascular related conditions such as heart attack (heart attacks are gauged according to how they resolve three months post), arrhythmia (including tachycardia, bradycardia and murmur), ischemic coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure (termed by social security as “chronic” heart failure), cardiohypertrophy (englargement of the heart), cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, congenital heart defect, blocked artery, cyanosis, syncope, peripheral artery disease (a.k.a peripheral vascular disease), chest pain (angina), cardiovascular disease related to high blood pressure, chronic venous insufficiency, aortic aneurysm (possibly involving renal kidney failure)

* Neurological conditions such as stroke, coordination, strength, and speech deficits resulting from strokes, epilepsy a.k.a. seizure disorder (including petite mal seizures and grand mal seizures), lyme disease (neurological deficits are one aspect of lymes), TBI or traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, cerebral palsy, parkinson’s disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease), myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral trauma (head injury), migraines, cluster headaches

* Digestive system impairments including wilson’s disease, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), peptic ulcer, esophageal varices, ascites, ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, liver disease, pancreatitis, crohn’s disease

Genito-urinary impairments such as kidney disease, kidney problems, dialysis, kidney transplant, nephrotic syndrome, ESRD or end stage renal disease

* Mood related disorders including bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression and termed by the social security administration as bipolar syndrome, a subset of mood disorders) and depression in all its various forms, such as mild depression, major depression, and dysthymia (The mental disability definition is no different from that for physical impairment cases. Social Security mental disorders, alleged on a claim, may require a consultative mental exam, i.e. a social security mental evaluation, to detemine benefits).

* Anxiety related disorders including PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and panic attacks.

* Vision related problems such as low vision, poor peripheral vision (contraction of peripheral fields), decreased visual acuity, macular degeneration, statutory blindness, loss of visual efficiency, and diabetic retinopathy

* Hearing and speech impairments including hearing not restorable by a hearing aid, inner ear problems (vertigo, meniere’s disease), and loss of speech

* Respiratory impairments including COPD, emphysema, asthma and asthma attacks, bronchitis, pneumothorax, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary vasculitis, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, cor pulmonale, pneumoconiosis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia, sarcoidosis

* Hemic and lymphatic problems including lymphedema, chronic anemia, sickle cell diease, polycythemia, lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia

* Skin disorders such as exfoliative dermatitis, hidradentitis supparativa, psoriasis, exema, pemphigus

* Conditions for which the etiology is unclear such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue

* Mental conditions, mental illness, and mental disorders including borderline intellectual functioning, low IQ, mental retardation, learning disability, personality disorder, schizo-affective disorder, schizophrenia, somatoform disorder, autism, asperger’s syndrome, down syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), memory loss, nerves

* Hiv and Aids

* Neoplastic disorders such as cancer of the throat, cancer of the larynx, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, cancer of the thyroid, hodgkin’s disease, sarcoma, malignant melanoma, lung cancer, cancer of the stomach or esophagus, prostaste cancer, intestinal cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular and uterine cancer

Brief Answers to common Questions about SSDI and SSI benefits

* How long does it take to receive the social security disability award letter? – After a case has been approved at the request for reconsideration or request for hearing level, it will generally take several weeks to receive the SSD or SSI award letter. Those approved for SSI will need to have their non-medical eligibility qualifications verified (assets and income) at a subsequent disability interview. Those approved for SSD, however, will receive disability benefits based on how long they have worked and may learn what kind of disability benefits their children can get based on their social security disability approval. They will also learn how far back disability benefits will be paid.

* Is fibromyalgia considered a medical disability? The qualifications for disability for fibromyalgia are same as for any other medical condition (for example degenerative disc disease) or mental condition (for example depression or bipolar disorder). Fibromyalgia does not appear in the social security disability list of impairments; however, the basic disability criteria remains the same, meaning that to be approved for disability benefits and to be eligible for back pay disability benefits on a claim, it must be shown that a person can no longer do their past work or any other form of work while earning a substantial and gainful income.

* How does it work with disability lawyers? Very simply, a disability attorney is only paid if your case is won (usually at the social security hearing level). The lawyer is paid 25% of your back pay up to a maximum of $5300.00. The best disability attorneys tend to be those who will A) properly appeal a denied disability application, B) explain the requirements for back pay if you receive conflicting correspondence (usually when a person is approved for SSd and also approved for SSI), C) explain his or her strategy on how to get disability awarded for your particular case and medical problems, D) gather sufficient medical evidence to achieve a decision on your case that is an approval. A good disability representative will also explain what it means when social security wants you to be seen by one of their doctors at an examination, whether or not you will receive medicare or medicaid healthcare benefits in the event you are awarded an approval, and discuss with you if members of your family will be entitled to benefits as a result of you being approved (not the case if you receive supplemental security income a.k.a. SSI benefits).

* If you get denied for disability, is it better to file a disability appeal, or start a disability claim all over? In most cases, appealing a denial will be the better route, simply because filing appeals will move your case toward a disability hearing where the odds of winning are better. To qualify for disability, a claimant must show evidence supporting functional limitations that preclude the ability to work. However, prior to the social security hearing, an applicant does not have the option of actually “showing” anything for the purpose of influencing a decision on a claim. At a hearing, though, the claimant can appear with an advocate and respond directly to questions about their ability to work and can address their medical history and work history.

* Is SSI disability substantially different from social security disability income? SSI eligibility is determined in exactly the same manner, by evaluating a claimant’s medical records and vocational factors. As such, SSI disability requirements are the same. There is no separate SSI disability application or SSI disability forms, nor is there a processing difference between SSI disabiilty benefits for adults and SSI disability for children.

* How hard is it win disability benefits? Statistics from the following states illustrate this. Bear in mind, however, that these are denials on disability applications which can be sucessfully appealed: Filing for Disability in Texas – sixty -one percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Florida – sixty-five percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in California – more than fifty-five percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Indiana – nearly sixty-eight percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in VA, Virginia – more than sixty-one percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in NC, North Carolina – sixty-seven percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in PA, pennsylvania – fifty-five percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Ohio – seventy-one percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in NJ, New Jersey – fifty percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in NY, New York – nearly sixty-two percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in MO, Missouri – nearly sixty-seven percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in KS, Kansas – sixty-seven percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Michigan – sixty-four percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in GA, Georgia – nearly seventy-two percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in TN, Tennessee – seventy-four percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Illinois – sixty-one percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Maryland – sixty-six percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Arizona – fifty-three percent denial rate; Filing for Disability in Arkansas – sixty-three percent denial rate

* The information presented on this site, including information regarding social security disability forms, social security disability eligibility, social security disability benefits, social security disability requirements, and how to file for disability applies to all states, including Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washinton, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, but is not intended as legal advice, does not form the basis for legal representation from an attorney, lawyer, or advocate, and should not be construed as such. However, the site does recommend the use of social security lawyers and disability attorneys for disabled individuals who have denied claims. In particular, a disabled claimant who receives a denial notice and must seek an appeal that involves a hearing before a judge should locate a qualified social security attorney or disability lawyer (or non-attorney advocate) for eligibility assistance. Qualified, of course, is a nebulous term but generally this means the disability representative will be familiar with questions such as A) who qualifies for disability, B) the requirements for disability benefits in the SSDI or SSI program, C) whether applying for disability again or filing a disability appeal is the best course following a denial, D) how to interpret an award letter, E) how to qualify for disability based on one’s medical condition and work history, F) how to get disability approved sooner in the process, G) filing for disability on the basis of a mental condition, and H) how to apply and win past benefits, a.k.a. backpay.

* Notice: This website holds a certificate of registration with the Library of Congress’ U.S. Copyright Office. Furthermore, to establish copyright protection over added material, subsequent registrations are now filed on a weekly basis. Instances of copyright infringment including derivative content will be pursued aggressively against infringers in the appropriate federal court jurisdiction for costs and damages. The information on this site is for informational purposes only and None of the information on this website is intended to serve as either medical advice or legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. As always, individuals who have questions about medical issues, especially those taking medication, should consult with a physician.

Free Residual functional capacity form downloads

* What is an RFC form? An RFC form is a form that allows your doctor or pysychiatrist to provide a detailed statement in support of your Social Security Disability or SSI disability case. RFC forms are potentially useful at any level of the process. However, they are most useful at a disability hearing (statements from doctors are sometimes ignored at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels) Your use of this form (which downloads as a word document) is completely at your own discretion. Warning and disclaimer: If you have a disability lawyer or non attorney disability representative handling your case, you should not submit the information obtained on this form, or any information, without first consulting your attorney or advocate. Reason: Your lawyer or representative will need to know what information has been made a part of your disability file and, furthermore, the person who provides representation for your claim will attempt to present your case in the most favorable light possible (Translation–if Doctor A fills out an RFC form that is less than helpful to your case, then Attorney B may not want to submit it). Notes: You may wish to link to this homepage from your website or group to make this information available to others, as well as other form downloads that, in the future, may become available in this spot.

Download Free Physical RFC Form

Download Free Mental RFC form



  1. I appreciate all of the information posted on this website. Sometimes it is difficult to do the research, without the help of my family members, and I hate to burden them. I recently researched senior housing in NJ and wanted to share the info I found to assist my fellow seniors.

  2. Thank you for the information, my 11 yr old grandson was recently diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis – he has been treating for “mood disorders” for past 3 years. It was at a recent visit with a new pediatrician that she brought to his mother’s attention that the skin discoloration on his abdomen was a sign of tuberous sclerosis. He will now be seeing a neurologist for a consultation.

  3. This design is steller! You definitely know how to
    keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that,
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