Definition of disability for Social Security benefits

The shortest version of the disability definition is “unable to work.” Of course, it’s much more complicated than that. And you actually can be approved for disability while working, as long as the work is not “substantial.” Social Security considers 5 things in evaluating your claim. They are, #1-work, #2-severity, #3-on the list?, #4-usual work, #5-other work.

If you have a clearly severe condition, like paralysis, or terminal cancer, they use the 5 steps, but the decision process is quick and easy. It’s when your condition is not that obvious they go through the 5 step decision process in detail. Note that you must be unable to do both your usual work and other work to be approved.

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Disability claim Medical Release form, SSA-827

827.gifEveryone filing for disability benefits has to give Social Security authorization to get medical records. The form they use is called either the “medical release” or the 827. If you are trying to file a claim by phone or mail, you will need to sign one or more of these and send it or bring it into the Social Security office. The form is available online at the official Social Security website here Disability claim Medical Release form, SSA-827 If you don’t have a printer, you can get one by visiting an office or calling to ask them to mail one to you. Once your claim is filed, the form is used to obtain your records from doctors, clinics, schools, and hospitals.

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Social Security is going “Paperless”

folder.gifAround 2004 Social Security started creating a paperless application process. Instead of creating a paper folder like this one, for each claim, they are saving all your application information in the computer system. Notice the rubber band? Now that’s high tech, LOL. These days, if you file a new claim, for any kind of benefit, retirement or disability, there won’t be a paper folder at all. Of course, there are still a lot of paper folders in the Social Security offices because disability claims filed in the past are still going through several appeal steps.

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Should you use the electronic disability report?

Social Security is moving forward with new technology, and in many ways this is good news. They have started a paperless application process that is faster, and will prevent files getting lost. If you file a new application now, the entire application is kept in an “electronic folder.” It keeps copies of all the forms in a format similar to a PDF document.

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