The surest way to secure Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits and to avoid a hearing is to have a treating physician provide a report that explains why a claimant meets a “listed impairment”.
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) describes impairments that are considered severe enough to prevent a person from working. If the claimant has such an impairment, the SSA will consider him or her disabled and entitled to SSD benefits. In other words, the SSA presumes that a claimant who is afflicted with a “listed” impairment is unable to work.
Late last year, I filed an application for SSD benefits for a 53 year old who last worked December 31, 2001. It is very difficult for a claimant to establish disability six years prior to the filing date. Nonetheless, the claimant’s application was approved without a hearing.
I was able to get the treating psychiatrist to provide reports explaining why the claimant met listing 12.04, which applies to bipolar and major depressive disorder. The SSA approved the SSD application based upon those reports. While the claimant may won benefits without the listing reports after a hearing, it is unlikely that the application would have been approved without the reports.