The Social Security disability determination procedure is a complicated system of rules, regulations and prior decisions. Many West Virginia residents who have had a work accident or otherwise have an inability to work apply for SSD benefits only to find that they are denied. Despite the physical or mental impairment the claimant may suffer, the term “disabled” is a specific finding to be made by Social Security Administration examiners only after following a defined sequential process.
One of the features of the process is the Listing of Impairments, which contains a list of injuries and illnesses that the SSA considers disabling but only if accompanied by specific symptoms. If a claimant’s condition precisely matches a listing, a finding of disability is a likely outcome, but few people have those exact medical conditions. Disability experts indicate that even when a specific listing is matched, the claimant may have to undergo further steps in the sequential process.
The reason for this is that although a claimant may have certain impairments that restrict job performance, in many cases there are still tasks that can be accomplished. This is known as the residual functional capacity. Not only does the claimant need to demonstrate an inability to work at his or her most recent job but also any other job. In fact, the SSA will look not merely to actual jobs within the claimant’s general locale but also any jobs elsewhere in the country.
Although denials are common, the SSA does have an appeal process. Legal representation, although not guaranteed, may be utilized at any stage of the proceedings. It is most effective at the disability hearing before an administrative law judge. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer may be effective in achieving the best result possible for the claimant.