Social Security Disability:

How To Apply; How To Win


Disability According To Social Security-cont.

Residual Functional Capacity

Residual Functional Capacity is the total of what one is left capable of doing after impairments take their toll.

Residual Functional Capacity forms for the most common impairments are here. Ultimately, the determination of how much functional capacity remains is reserved for the Administrative Law Judge. However, these forms fill in a considerable number of gaps which would otherwise be left open to interpretation. Permitting this to happen could be injurious to your health. As long as everything else is consistent with your treating doctors' answers, the ALJ usually will accept what s/he says. They frequently make the difference between winning and losing.


The official guide to the classification of all jobs found in the national economy is called the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. The listings in this guide include the required strength classifications, vocational preparation, and complete job descriptions. It is not within the scope of this publication to explain in detail this guide. That understanding is better left to the legal representative practitioner.

Given the current legislative environment it is imperative to understand how toreduce your residual functional capacity to less than sedentary. A detailed explanation of how to do this is in the next chapter, but more often than not, for physical problems, it boils down to the inability to sit for more than 2 hours at a time or 6 hours total in an 8-hour work day

Activities of Daily Living

There are two major parts to every listed mental impairment. The activities of daily living questionnaire (page 4-5) is designed to help answer the question of how severe an impairment is in Part B of those Listings. (See Appendix A.) Specifically, they provide the evaluator with an indication of how withdrawn and isolated an individual is from others, what circumstances cause an exacerbation of symptoms, such as performing work under stress, or strict supervision. To what extent has the individual lost interest in activities which were once enjoyable? To what degree is the ability to think and concentrate affected? Can s/he read, watch television? Is s/he taking care of routine matters within the household such as cooking and cleaning, or is there some or total avoidance of doing these things?

The critical issue in answering these questions is whether or not they are consistent with a treating psychologist's or psychiatrist's assessment of a condition. If the answers are exaggerated - except when there is a somataform or hysterical disorder - it sends up a red flag to an Administrative Law Judge. More often than exaggeration, however, those with mental problems minimize their symptoms, so it is extremely important to be as truthful and realistic as is possible. Get someone who lives with you to check your answers.


  • Broke Last year the Social Security Administration sent $127.7 billion to those determined disabled but took in only $104 billion in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Deficits began draining the trust fund in 2005 and are expected to be exhausted by 2017

  • Account Overdrawn Just as when individuals spend beyond their means to repay, so too, do states and nations. "Washing-ton's public debt is nearly $8.5 trillion, which comes to about 58% of the U.S. economy, compared with ratios exceeding 100% in places like Greece.

  • The End of Healthcare Make no mistake about it: socialized medicine is medical treatment at the pointof a gun. Under a single payer government plan, medical decisions will be taken out of doctors' hands and relinquished to the arbitrary whims of government.

  • Vet Falsely Accused An atmosphere of suspicion and distrust was created even before Bill arrived at the meeting with Social Security's consulting psychiatrist, Dr. F. Bill called him from the road to tell him he was on Key Bridge and would be a few minutes late.

  • Our Deceptive SSA An audit of the Social Security Administration by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) two years ago uncovered some very disturbing and damning facts. Among them are: Hundreds of pieces of unopened mail;

  • The Good, Bad, & Ugly Over many years I have seen a lot of representatives askquestions about the numbers of jobs vocational experts (VEs) testify to under a set of limitations the ALJ accepts. However, the latest dialogue among representatives has confirmed for me

  • Do The Math For the purpose of constructing a model which excludes the factan image that the number of workers (who pay the bill) is less than the number of retirees (who collect via SSA from the workers), consider the following: Start with an eighteen-year old

  • Backlog Crisis The latest processing times for Social Security disability cases have hit new all-time highs. The average lengths of time up to May of 2008 for Social Security disability claimants to get a hearing after a hearing is requested, has been received from the Social Security Administration through

  • Safety Net Knot David Michaelis of Chewala, WA, felt the symptoms of a rare neuromuscular disease in October of '02.The condition causes involuntary movements of the head and neck, which destroys the ability to coordinate eye-hand movements.


  • Disable Social Security Chile's Social Security system is based on individualfreedoms - economic, social and political - and is a much more prosperous and lively society.

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85% of Social Security Disabiity Benefits Are Unclaimed By Disabled Veterans

On 12/18/13, Congress voted in favor of a budget bill which would cut pension benefits for disabled veterans by 1%. The bill would ease for 2 years the mandatory across-the-board sequestration reductions previously mandated by Congress. Sequestration would have eliminated $45 billion in the 2014 budget year. The current bill would cut $6 billion over 10 years from the veteran benefits of military wounded retirees in addition to about half the cuts already underway under sequestration.

Senator Jeff Sessions (D-AL) attempted to replace the veteran cut with and estimated $4.2 billion reduction in an IRS credit illegal immigrants have claimed, but failed to get support for the substitution.

In a 2006 report by Allison Percy, a principal analyst, to the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, he revealed to the Congressional Budget Office that only 15% of disabled veterans claim disability under Social Security.

Veterans are the only group of individuals who are permitted to obtain disability benefits under both the Veterans program and Social Security. Yet, few seek or are aware of this law. Often, these additional benefits would double or exceed the amount they receive from VA benefits alone. The only significant difference between the 2 agency programs is that the VA assigns percentages of disability which determine the amount of benefits awarded while the SSA program is all or nothing.

The Social Security insured program is based on earned credits. For veterans these credits are greatly increased so that they qualify for a much longer time than any others under the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance program). Moreover, the standards of judgment used by Social Security for disability are very similar to those used by the VA. Mr. Percy stated in his report, " In considering the issue of multiple benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance stands out in particular because it is the largest federal program that, like VA disability compensation, is designed to replace earnings that are lost because of a disability." And later in the report, "[A]bout 15 percent of veterans who are receiving VA disability compensation also receive payments from SSDI."

Social Security Disability Self-Evaluation

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Here's a short quiz that will help you determine what your chances are of being found disabled.


Of Note

    Rules To Ignore At Your Peril

    1. Do not ask your treating doctor to write a memo saying that you are disabled and cannot work. Such statements are always rejected by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) on the basis that doctors do not know what SSA's standards of judgment for disability are.

    2. Make certain you are seeing a doctor of your choosing on a regular basis so that a good and complete medical record has been established. Evaluations should be typewritten; handwritten notes are rarely read. Nor do they provide a comprehensive assessment of the medical problems. Treating doctors are required to be given controlling weight in making a decision as long as what your doctor says does not contradict other reports from other treating and non-treating doctors.

    3. All statements by medical professionals must be well supported by objective medical evidence, wherever possible. Objective medical evidence includes x-ray reports, CT scans, MRIs, endoscopic exams, EEGs,ECGs, blood tests, neurological exams, etc. for physical impairments. Clinical observations should be as detailed as much as possible. Mental impairments should be supported with as much testing and therapeutic findings as possible. Testing should include a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Rey Auditory Memory, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), and clinical observations and findings.

    4. While pain is subjective, as long as there are sound medical reasons for causing pain, then it will be taken into consideration.

    The degree of pain cannot be measured, but its effect on thinking and concentration can be with an MMPI or IPAT. What you do, or don't do, during a typical day is also taken into consideration in evaluating the intensity and limiting effects of pain. The greater the degree of pain, the less one is able to do.
    In theory, if your doctor replies that your impairments do meet or equal one or more of the Listings, that should be the end of it--you should be found disabled.

    ALJ Listing Form
    At the fourth step of the decision-making process, where the adjudicator must ask whether the individual's impairment meets or equals the Listings of Impairment, this form helps resolve any issues which might otherwise be left open to questions. It should be given to your treating doctors to answer, along with a copy of the Listings which apply to you.

    But, in practice, it doesn't always work that way. The bottom line is always, how well does the individual function in spite of his or her impairments. So, be sure to get your doctor to complete the residual functional capacity assessment, too.

    What a Few Clients Say

    I gladly write you a check today for our fully favorable SSDI win.

    For long years and NC didn't do anything quickly or easy, but you stayed the course, kept me informed and most important-were my champion. I never spoke to anyone at SSA because you were on the front line for me.

    I am proof positive that you can win your benefits with a skilled professional by your side. Dystonians rejoice for Fred Johnson!

    D.Brinkley Snead Ferry, NC

    Thank you for the untiring support given to me in obtaining my Social Security Disability claim. I would not have been able to do all the hard work that you have put into this case. You will be greatly rewarded for the work you do for Disabled population. I will keep you always in my prayers. Again, thank you.!!!

    E. White
    Randallstown, MD 21132

    I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for successfully navigating us to a favorable decision with regard to my case. If one ever has any concern or doubt about hiring a representative over an attorney, I can assure them that this notion can be set to rest. You very capably guided me through a maze of obstacles designed to confuse and bewilder even the well educated.

    Because Spasmodic Torticolllis is considered somewhat of a rare disorder and is not listed on the Department of Social Security's "listing of impairments:, it created a challenge, but it was one you were more than able to handle. Everything happened as you predicted with respect to the denials, but it was your expertise and perseverance that prevailed somewhere between the reconsideration denial and the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, which was very unusual. You spared me the great anxiety and further depletion of my savings by cutting through the labyrinthine bureaucracy at the hearing level and winning benefits without have to go to a hearing. Needless to say, I am very pleased and would highly recommend you to anyone who may be considering you as their representative.

    Not only were you always available to answer my questions and concerns on a professional level, but equally as important, was the way in which you took this case on personally. I really admired the way you actually fought for me. Your heart was in it and I could tell. You know the system so very well Fred, and people who attempt to take on this giant on their own are at a tremendous disadvantage from the beginning.

    If your assistance will help level the playing field and helps them decide on the proper representation they truly need, then it is my honor and pleasure to be of service to you.

    Thank you so much!

    G. Beaubien, Jr.
    Osprey, FL