If you have looked into the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefit program, you may wonder just exactly how your case is decided and why you were denied. To understand this, you should know how disabilities are rated in our country.

As Social Security disability lawyers, we know that you may be considered disabled under one evaluation system, but not another, which can lead to confusion and disappointment. There are a number of rating systems used in the United States to decide the level of disability. Here is a quick look at three of them:

The Veterans Administration Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD): 

This rating system has been used for over 50 years to determine benefits distribution amounts for military veterans. The VASRD:

  • Has had only a few changes over its long history, but a new revision is currently underway. This new revision will give mental health conditions equal footing with physical disabilities, among other changes.
  • Is divided into 15 body systems, with more than 700 diagnostic codes.
  • Assigns the level of disability using percentages in 10 percent increments. These begin at 0 percent for not disabled, up to 100 percent for fully disabled.

The American Medical Association (AMA) Guides:

The AMA has its own set of definitions and standards to rate impairment. Here are some of the high points of this system. The AMA Guides:

  • Define disability as “an alteration of an individual’s capacity to meet personal, social, or occupational demands because of an impairment.”
  • Urge physicians to rate impairments based on how well the patient performs activities of daily living, rather than work.
  • State that impairment ratings based on their standards are “not intended for use as direct determinants of work disability.”

The Social Security Administration:

  • Does not consider percentages of disability. A person is either fully disabled or not disabled.
  • Denies benefits if a person is performing work at a certain level.
  • Denies benefits if a person can perform daily activities like sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and carrying.
  • List their criteria for deciding beneficiaries according to body systems, called the “listing of Impairments.”
  • Use a state agency medical consultant to evaluate the claimant’s ability to perform basic work activities.
  • Considers age, education and work history in determining benefits.

There are also other systems used to determine disability, including workers compensation programs, private disability insurance policies, and state disability programs. 

Appeal a Denied Disability Claim

If you have been denied a New England SSA disability claim, or if you just have questions on how your disability is determined, give the team at Keefe Disability Law a call toll-free at 888-904-6847. Also, order a copy of our FREE report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer