California residents who are out of work due to physical limitations often wonder about Social Security Disability and eligibility requirements. While there are many anecdotal stories about delays and nightmarish bureaucracy, the requirements and process for disability approval are rather straightforward. There can be delays, but having paperwork in order goes a long way toward streamlining the process.

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are programs designed to provide assistance to individuals having a condition or combination of conditions that will keep them from working for at least 12 months. Since these are not short-term or temporary programs, the duration of disability is the first threshold issue regarding eligibility. The impairment must be sufficiently severe to create functional limitations and restrictions on average daily activities. Activities of daily living include grooming and hygiene, cleaning, eating, driving, shopping and anything else typically included in regular life for the individual.

The Social Security Administration places heavy reliance on medical records when considering an applicant for disability. If records are consistent with the applicant’s personal narrative of disability, approval is more likely. Records are also reviewed by vocational specialists to ascertain whether applicants can work in any job while complying with clinical restrictions on standing, sitting or lifting. At the hearing stage, the applicant may provide personal testimony as well as testimony from witnesses. On occasion, specialized testimony or written reports from doctors trained to assess disability will be sought by either the SSA or the applicant.

Getting approved for SSD involves navigating specific procedures and providing necessary documentation for the SSA at every step in the process. An attorney can provide valuable insight and guidance for anyone with questions regarding benefit eligibility.