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How Social Security determines if someone is disabled

When California workers are disabled and can no longer work, they may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. To qualify, someone must have enough work credits, which are earned during the years he or she worked. But the other important qualification is that the Social Security Administration must decide that the worker's disability makes him or her unable to work. The formula for determining disability is somewhat complex and involves the worker's residual functional capacity, or remaining ability to work after becoming disabled.

A worker's RFC is rated and considers both physical RFC and mental RFC. The physical RFC rating reflects the worker's ability to perform tasks that involve physical exertion. The mental RFC could reflect deficiencies the worker has with memory or concentration, or it could be affected by emotional issues such as an inability to get along with other workers.

If the RFC rating means that the worker is no longer capable of doing the type of work he or she did in the past, then the worker's ability to do some other type of work is considered. Ultimately, an SSD claim is approved if it is determined that the worker can no longer perform his or her former work or any other type of work. If a claim is denied, it can be appealed. A disability examiner will again make the decision on a second appeal. If it is denied, then the claimant can request a hearing. At the hearing, a judge makes the decision.

Supplemental Security Income is another type of disability income. Unlike SSD, SSI is not based on work history, but it is based on financial need. Someone who receives SSI benefits could lose those benefits due to an increase in income or an inheritance. There are legal methods of preventing SSI discontinuance or challenging it if it occurs.

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