Social Security and SSI Disability Claims

You have questions? We have answers…

  • Do you have a serious mental and/or physical impairment or a combination of impairments(s) that prevent you from working?
  • Do you want a firm that will work hand in hand with you through the complete process – from initial claims to ALJ Disability hearings and beyond?
  • Has your case been denied by an Administrative Law Judge? We can help get the decision reversed or remanded for a new hearing.
  • Has Social Security terminated your disability benefits? We can help…

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Anxiety is common condition that, if severe enough, may qualify you for Social Security disability or SSI benefits. For more information visit our anxiety page.

Back pain can be caused by many different spinal conditions. Spinal conditions usually occur either as a result of the normal aging process or after a traumatic incident such as a car accident or a fall.

Chronic conditions causing back pain include degenerative disc disease or “DDD” which can affect many in their 40s and often progressively gets worse as you age. This degenerative process is not something you can prevent as it is a result of normal wear and tear. If you have a history of more physically arduous work, you may accelerate the normal degenerative process.

Back pain can also result from osteoarthritis; inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, arachnoiditis, and spondylitis; and problems involving the nerves in the back: spinal stenosis, nerve root compression, herniated discs, scoliosis, or spondylolisthesis.

Social security will pay benefits for persons disabled by the conditions cited above. In <this link> they discuss the evaluation of back conditions in great detail.  Generally, in order to be considered severe enough to be totally disabling, your orthopedic impairment must:

  • Cause range of motion limitations in your back, neck, or major joints such as the hips or shoulders;
  • Affect your ability to sit, walk (ambulate effectively), stand, stoop, bend, kneel, crouch, or crawl;
  • Require the use of an assistive such as a cane, brace, walker etc.;
  • Cause severe pain that requires medication or other therapeutic interventions to manage;
  • Can be documented using acceptable medical tests such as MRIs and X-Rays;
  • Significantly impact your ability to take care of your personal needs and other daily activities you perform such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.

If you have severe back pain, consult with your doctor.  With appropriate imaging to identify the affected areas and pain management your back pain can be managed. To get help and information about getting disability with a back condition call the experts at Southeastern Disability who have the experience of proving and winning back related cases.


Depression is a condition that Social Security may award benefits for if you meet certain criteria. For more information check out our depression quiz and depression page for helpful information and links to community resources.

Disability Information

SSDI Benefits

The Social Security Disability program is an insurance program paid for by workers and employers through payroll taxes.

The are several programs that people may qualify for such as:

  • Disabled Workers benefits
  • Disabled Widows benefits
  • Disabled Children’s benefits

SSI Benefits

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. In order to qualify for SSI benefits you have to meet three criteria:

  1. Limited income
  2. Limited resources
  3. Have a severe physical or mental impairment

How do I know if I qualify?

To qualify for Social Security or SSI benefits, you must have an impairment or combination of impairments that have a substantial impact on your ability to work and conduct your normal daily activities such as cooking, shopping, showering & bathing, cleaning your residence, driving a car, etc.

You have to have evidence to prove you are disabled

Your impairments and resulting symptoms must be caused by “medically determinable impairments” or MDIs. In order to prove that you have MDI’s there must be medical evidence including tests, images, blood tests, breathing tests, EKGs, etc. Each MDI has a required set of tests that medically substantiate the presence and severity of the condition. Medical evidence is required to prove the existence and severity of your impairments.

Does Social Security offer short-term or partial disability?

No to both. According to SSA’s rules, your impairments must be permanent or be expected to last at least 12 months as Social Security doesn’t offer partial or temporary disability. In order to be found disabled you have to be 100% permanently disabled according to Social Security’s rules.

What kind of impairments can I get disability for?

<Click here> for the official list of conditions.

Are there any conditions where people can automatically can get approved?

Certain conditions will automatically qualify you for disability benefits but most do not.

You can find a complete list of impairments that automatically qualify you for benefits at this link: compassionate allowance cases or “CAL” cases and there are conditions which qualify you for  “presumptive benefits” at this link.


What if I don’t qualify or my condition isn’t severe enough?

If your case is not severe enough, according to Social Security’s standards, we have partner’s in the community that may be able to help you:

Goodwill – Their mission is to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment to live independently and become employed. They can help with job search and assistance.

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation – Their mission is “Employment and independence for Georgians with disabilities.” They offer programs to help you find employment or employers willing to accommodate specific limitations that you may have.

Of course, if you are not sure you can call our office and arrange a free case evaluation to help you determine what your options are.

How does Social Security evaluate my physical impairments?

After you have proven that your limitations can be attributed to a medically determinable impairment(s) and that you have sought medical care for those conditions, Social Security will determine how your impairments affect your ability to do work-related activities.

To illustrate, here are some examples of limitations and the causal condition(s) that may affect your ability to do work-related activities:

  • Difficulty raising your arm(s) above shoulder level to brush your hair – due to range of motion limitation in the shoulder joint(s) due to arthritis or other orthopedic condition or injury.


  • Difficulty lifting objects weighing more than 10 lbs. off of the floor – due to range of motion limitations in the lower back due to lumbar spine problems proven by imaging such as an MRI or X-Rays.


  • Difficulty sitting in a seated position for more than 30 min at a time – due to pain from a back injury of the thoracic or lumbar spine proven by imaging results and consultation with an orthopedist and actively in pain management.


  • Difficulty manipulating fine objects with the hands due to carpal tunnel, arthritis, or other conditions that affect the hands. This also causes you to drop things and limits the weight of objects you can lift or carry.


Social Security looks at postural and range of motion limitations which affect your ability to:

  • bend
  • stoop
  • kneel
  • crouch
  • crawl
  • walk
  • sit
  • stand

SSA also looks at manipulative limitations which affect your ability to:

  • grip,
  • finger
  • grasp
  • manipulate objects with your hands.

Environmental limitations such as:

  • extremes of heat or cold,
  • dust
  • fumes and pulmonary irritants
  • noise, etc.

In addition to work-related activities, Social Security also looks at how your impairments affect your  “activities of daily living”  which include:

  • Personal Care- Bathing, showering, dressing, grooming
  • Cooking – Preparing meals for yourself or others
  • Cleaning – Sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, etc.
  • Yardwork – Cutting grass, raking, planting flowers, etc.

If your conditions and resulting impairments don’t have a substantial impact on your “daily activities”, then your case may not be severe enough to meet Social Security’s standards.

Finally, the Social Security disability process is complex and technical – that is why you should call Southeastern Disability and consult the experts with the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the process.

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James E. Allen - Your disability advocate

James E. Allen