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How Social Security disability claims are processed

California residents who can no longer work due to a medical condition may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. But understanding if an illness, injury or simply old age makes someone entitled to payments can be confusing. The Social Security Administration uses a procedure to determine if a person is entitled to payment of benefits that involves certain criteria.

The SSA maintains a list of impairments that are considered severe enough to prevent someone from working. There is a separate list of impairments for children who sometimes qualify for Supplemental Security Income. SSI is different than SSDI because it does not relate to past work experience. Disabled children or adults who have never worked or have not worked recently as well as elderly people could be eligible for SSI benefits.

Someone who applies for SSDI or SSI benefits will be required to undergo a medical examination and have their physician or physicians send reports to the SSA. In some cases the SSA may require that an applicant also see a doctor or doctors that the SSA chooses. The SSA makes a determination based on medical information as well as non-medical iitems including age, work skills, education and other factors. If the claim is approved, SSA calculates the benefit amount and begins making payments.

Though it may seem clear that someone who is disabled should be entitled to Social Security benefits, the SSA often rejects claims. A denied claim can be appealed within 60 days. Disability cases often go to court on appeal for a hearing before a judge. Someone who is seeking Social Security disability benefits may want to have the assistance of attorney throughout the process.

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