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Social Security disability application requires complex proof

When filing for disability benefits certain initial forms will be required by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is the federal agency that administers the Social Security disability program. The SSA also oversees the hearings and appeal process. In Pennsylvania or elsewhere, the initial forms required to get a claim filed and off the ground are the Disability Application, the Disability Report and a medical authorization form.

The application is the first form to be filled out. The applicant fills it in and submits it to the SSA office. It gives background information and tells the agency about the nature of the applicant's life and why disability assistance is needed.

The disability report gives the SSA more detailed information on the applicant's medical situation and history. The authorization form gives the SSA the authority to obtain medical records from the applicant's medical providers. With this beginning battery of forms, the SSA becomes informed about the case and makes an initial decision.

The initial decision most often is a rejection, and an appeal must be filed. In the appeal process, all remaining information is obtained. The applicant may be examined by experts hired by the SSA, and a hearing is held before a judge who will decide whether to grant benefits.

After reviewing all of the evidence, the judge issues a written decision. He or she decides whether the applicant is prevented from doing any substantial gainful activity by virtue of a physical or mental impairment which has lasted or is likely to last for at least a 12-month continuous period. The disability must be so severe that it prevents the performance of his or her previous work and also any other substantial work existing in the national economy.

The Social Security disability procedure in Pennsylvania follows the uniform format existing in all states. As the foregoing may indicate, the concept and proof are complicated enough that it is highly advisable for the applicant to make sure they have a full understanding of their rights under the law. This may require research as they begin the application process to be sure that they fill out their forms appropriately.

Source:, Social Security Q&A, Gerald Tilley, Dec. 31, 2013

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