How to Prove You’re Disabled to Get Social Security Benefits


When you have a diagnosed disability that prevents you from working, getting Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is vitally important to meet your monthly financial obligations and provide for yourself. Unfortunately, going through the SSD application process to determine whether your condition qualifies can be an ordeal, with many claims ending up delayed or denied. When applying, it is important to understand the disability process that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses and the types of information you are required to submit.

The Disability Process in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, there are five Social Security disability (SSD) offices at which you can submit an application for SSD benefits, or you can submit an application online. According to SSD guidelines, you are required to submit the following information and documents:

  • Social Security number and proof of date of birth, such as baptismal records or birth certificate;
  • Similar information for your spouse or minor children;
  • Banking account information, so that funds may be electronically deposited;
  • Information about your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work, including the names of doctors, hospitals, surgeons, and other medical providers;
  • Information about medical testing and treatment you received, and any medications you are currently prescribed;
  • Information about current and past employment, including W-2 forms or tax returns if you are self-employed.

As part of the disability process, you are required to submit a form giving the SSA permission to speak with your doctor about your medical condition. Once the application has been submitted, medical decisions regarding your case will be made in cooperation between the SSA and your local Disability Determination Services Office.

How The Sequential Evaluation Process Works

Rhode Island’s Disability Determination Services makes decisions regarding benefits using a sequential evaluation process outlined under Social Security Act regulations (SSR). This process seeks to answer the following questions:

  • Has the person previously been employed or engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA)?
  • Is the applicant’s impairment severe enough to prevent them from working?
  • Is the impairment listed in the SSA impairment listing manual?
  • Is there medical evidence proving the disability?
  • Does the condition prevent the person from working in their field or being trained to do other work?

According to statistics from the SSA, only a fourth of the roughly 200,000 people who apply for SSD benefits each year get approved. If your SSD application has been initially denied, you have the right to file an appeal.

Under SSA Disability Appeal Guidelines, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. At these hearings, evaluations from your medical provider are crucial in establishing your right to receive disability benefits. The judges are likely to give more weight to medical testimony than given in the initial disability process.

Let Us Assist You with Your Case

If you are applying for SSD benefits or have been denied benefits, contact Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP today. Our experienced team of Social Security disability lawyers has represented thousands of SSD applicants. We will work with your doctor and our medical experts to obtain appropriate language to characterize your disability appropriately. We will work hard to help you obtain the benefits that you need and deserve.