1. How long do I have to be disabled? Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI is a long term disability program. To be eligible, you have to have a condition which disables you a year or longer or is considered terminal. However, this does not mean that you need to be off-work for a year before you can get approved.
2. There are five disability programs. You have to be eligible for one of five programs they administer. If your answers don't qualify you for at least one of these programs, you could be the most disabled person on the planet and you will still get denied.
3. You have to prove yourself disabled. When you file an application for benefits, it is your responsibility to prove that you are disabled. So if you file a claim with some evidence that you might be disabled, but it does not show that you meet every part of the disability rules, you lose.
4. Your opinion is not enough. While social security will send you numerous forms for you to complete throughout the process, your answers are not evidence, it's just your opinion. What matters is medical evidence and opinions from your doctors.
5.The importance of your doctors. Social Security will consider your doctor's opinion, if they think it fits with the rest of the medical evidence. However they do not typically ask for this. Rather they read the medical records. If it is not in there, they get another doctor to read the record and they follow his opinion.
6. O.K. you're disabled, who says? Social Security has a very specific definition of what it means to be disabled. This definition is probably very different than what you, or your doctor, think it is. If your doctor simply says you are "disabled" it will be ignored by the reviewers at social security.