If my doctor says I’m disabled, does that mean I will automatically qualify for benefits?

Unfortunately, even if your doctor says you as are disabled, that does not mean the Social Security Administration (SSA) will automatically approve you for benefits. There is no one definition of “disabled,” as there are so many different impairments a person can have. The determination of disability is ultimately a legal decision, not a medical decision. Being declared disabled by a doctor is not the same as being approved for disability by the SSA. In order to be approved for Social Security Disability (SSD), you must have an impairment that equals or meets an impairment listing in the SSA’s Blue Book and/or prove that your disability creates enough workplace limitations that you cannot work, even at a desk job.

Because of the complex system the SSA uses to decide to award benefits, unless you have a serious condition, such as those listed as a Compassionate Allowance , there is no guarantee of your approval. The SSA will have to take into account what activities you can and cannot do and determine whether they believe there is gainful employment (at least $1,130 per month) that you can do based on your age, education, transferable skills, and residual functional capacity (RFC). If you are currently working full time or part time, proving you are disabled enough to be eligible for disability benefits could be harder.

If your doctor says you are disabled, there are ways she or he can give your case more weight. Often, doctors’ notes are short and they can ignore follow-ups from the SSA, and this hurts your case because the SSA cannot see how the doctor thinks the disability is affects you. Work with your doctor to provide a detailed statement on your illness or disability. This is important in all SSD claims, and the more detail your doctor gives about your impairment and how its symptoms limit your ability to work and perform daily living activities, the more likely the SSA will approve your claim. In any case, an attorney would know what your doctor needs to provide and would help increase your chances of getting the claim approved.