The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability payments to people who cannot work due to a medical condition. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate that they have a disabling condition and that the condition interferes with their ability to work for a living. The SSA considers medical evidence from the applicant's doctor as well as from its own doctors when making disability decisions.
Documented Medical Condition
The SSA has a list of medical conditions it considers to be disabling. Some of these conditions, such as congestive heart failure, are physical conditions, while others, such as Asperger's Syndrome, are neurological and psychological in nature. To qualify for medical disability, a person must be diagnosed with one of the conditions on the list by a qualified doctor. Doctor's notes and medical reports are strong evidence of a person's disability.
Inability to Work
The disability must be severe enough to interfere with the person's ability to work. The SSA considers past work experiences and future potential work experiences when making this judgment. It evaluates past work experiences based on the physical and mental effort required to return to that type of work, taking medical evidence into account. If the person can no longer perform that type of work, the SSA then considers whether the person would be able to perform other types of work.
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Existing medical evidence may not be strong enough for the SSA to make a determination. In these cases, it requires the person to attend a consultative examination. Every effort is made to allow the person's primary care physician to perform this examination; if this is impossible, the SSA pays for one of its doctors to evaluate the person's claim. The purpose of this examination is to evaluate the person's medical condition and the effect it has on the person's ability to work.