Man in wheelchair on laptop applying for SSDI

If You’re Applying for SSDI, We Help You Understand the Eligibility and Application Process to Secure Needed Benefits 

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a complex, lengthy, and time-consuming process that ultimately disappoints most applicants. The Social Security Administration (SSA) initially rejects approximately 70 percent of SSDI applications, often because they’re incomplete, completed incorrectly, or lack objective medical evidence supporting the existence and severity of a disabling medical condition

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessments can be indispensable to proving you qualify for SSDI, particularly if you don’t precisely match the requirements for a specific disease or disorder in the SSA Blue Book. This medical guide lists SSDI-qualifying conditions and criteria applicants must meet for approval. 

Disability Services of America is an SSA-approved Employment Network with extensive experience helping clients with severe disabilities explore SSDI eligibility, gather crucial medical documentation, complete their applications, and navigate unfamiliar processes to secure the benefits they deserve. We can help you understand the value of RFC assessments and how they might impact your SSDI application. 

Exploring Your SSDI Eligibility 

If you’re living with a disability that prevents you from working at the substantial gainful activity level, you could qualify for vital financial support from the SSA. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides monthly payments for qualifying individuals with severe disabilities. Approval for SSDI benefits requires much more than a disabling diagnosis. To qualify, you must:

  • Have accumulated sufficient work credits working in jobs that paid into Social Security through payroll taxes. Applicants typically need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned 10 years before disability onset. 
  • Not be working above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. 
  • Have a medically determinable impairment (MDI) that’s expected to cause death or prevent SGA for at least 12 months.
  • Meet or equal a listing in the SSA Blue Book.

Meeting or Equaling a Blue Book Listing 

Each medical condition listed in the Blue Book is accompanied by the criteria you must meet to gain approval for benefits. Even if you have a qualifying condition and can prove your disability’s nature and intent, precisely meeting the approval requirements can be challenging. Additionally, the Blue Book doesn’t include all potentially disabling illnesses and disorders.

Fortunately, just because your symptoms don’t match a listing exactly or your condition isn’t included doesn’t mean that you don’t—or can’t—qualify for SSDI. Instead of “meeting” a listing, you can “equal” a listing by providing evidence showing that your MDI is equally disabling as a condition that qualifies for Social Security disability benefits. An RFC assessment is often critical to helping SSDI applicants accomplish this complex task.

Understanding Residual Functional Capacity Assessments

An RFC evaluation assesses your ability to perform work-related activities, identifying the tasks you’re still capable of doing despite the limitations your disabling medical condition imposes. The functional capacities assessed often include your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, pull, and perform other physical activities. 

An RFC also considers your ability to complete mental and cognitive tasks, such as following instructions, maintaining attention and concentration, and interacting appropriately with others. These essential assessments provide the SSA with a clear understanding of your functional abilities and limitations, enabling it to determine your eligibility for SSDI benefits.

How Completing an RFC Assessment Could Aid Your Application for SSDI

Undergoing a comprehensive RFC assessment may significantly strengthen your SSDI application, improving your chances for approval. These evaluations provide objective evidence of your functional limitations, which is essential for demonstrating the severity of your disabling medical condition and its impact on your ability to work and engage in SGA.

The SSA Considers the Combined Impacts of Your Impairments

When applying for SSDI, the SSA doesn’t just consider the impacts of your primary medical condition. If you have multiple medical problems, the examiners evaluating your SSDI claim consider the combined effects of all your impairments on your overall health, functioning, and work capacity. An RFC assessment is essential to establishing your ability or inability to hold a job at the SGA level.

Determining Who Completes Your Residual Functional Capacity Assessment Form 

RFC assessment forms aren’t completed by SSDI applicants. Instead, this crucial paperwork is filled out by qualified medical professionals, such as your treating physicians, physical therapists, or other medical specialists familiar with your conditions. They assess your medical records, conduct a thorough examination, and document their findings in the RFC form. 

Providing correct and detailed information to your medical team is essential to ensuring an accurate assessment that supports your claim for SSDI benefits. 

How Our SSA-Approved Employment Network Helps Clients With Disabling Conditions With the SSDI Application Process

Disability Services of America is a leading SSA-approved Employment Network (EN) that assists individuals with disabilities through every step of the Social Security disability application process. With more than a decade of experience helping clients with severe disabilities obtain Social Security disability benefits, our team of experienced professionals understands the complexities of the system and can provide invaluable guidance and support.

From helping you gather necessary medical evidence to arranging RFC assessments and making sense of the SSDI application paperwork, we’re here to ensure that your application receives the attention and consideration it deserves. We work closely with you to understand your unique circumstances and goals, then advocate on your behalf to maximize your chances of securing a successful outcome.

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, having a thorough RFC assessment is essential to strengthening your claim and demonstrating the severity of your medical conditions and their impact on your earning potential. Working with our SSA-approved EN can help you access the experienced support you need to make it through the SSDI application process with confidence.

Helping SSDI Recipients Return to Work While Protecting Their Benefits

Disability Services of America doesn’t just help individuals with disabling medical conditions apply for and obtain vital benefits. As an SSA-approved EN, we also help SSDI beneficiaries successfully reenter the workforce if that’s their choice.

Known as the Ticket to Work program, this popular SSA work initiative allows disability recipients to test their ability to return to full-time employment while protecting the benefits they’ve come to count on. SSDI beneficiaries who participate in this voluntary program, assigning their “ticket” to a State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency or EN like Disability Services of America, can take advantage of wide-ranging free career and benefits counseling services intended to aid their return to the workforce. 

In addition to career and benefits counseling, we also help clients:

  • Develop realistic and personalized employment goals
  • Complete Individualized Work Plans
  • Create strong resumes
  • Practice for job interviews
  • Research the labor market
  • Find fulfilling and meaningful employment
  • Navigate EEOC and ADA rights in the workplace

We’re here to provide the ongoing support you need to thrive.

What Happens When You Can’t Return to Work

The Ticket to Work process includes a trial work period during which SSDI recipients can test their work capabilities. Not everyone who participates in Ticket to Work successfully returns to full-time employment—and that’s okay. Disability beneficiaries who discover that they’re still incapable of working at the SGA level retain their SSDI benefits. 

Worried that you’ll go back to work, lose SSDI benefits, and then realize that you can’t maintain SGA? If it’s been five years or less since your SSDI cash payments stopped, the SSA allows you to apply for expedited reinstatement of benefits.