Once you file a Social Security disability claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA), the SSA will determine your eligibility for the program (based on age, employment, marital status or Social Security coverage information), and then the SSA will evaluate whether or not you are disabled. Read on to learn more about how the SSA reaches its determination and the criteria involved.
The SSA's Definition of "Disabled"
In the context of Social Security, the definition of disabled is a long-term disability that renders you unable to work in any capacity. You must not be able to engage in any "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) because of a physical or mental medical condition.
The SSA considers you disabled if the following criteria are met:
Social Security only covers total disability; it doesn’t pay any benefits disabilities that are partial or short-term. Furthermore, to verify a disability, the SSA may require you to supply information from your doctor or disability specialist regarding the nature of your medical condition, when it began, how it adversely affects your work, the results of medical tests, and any treatment you have received.
How the SSA Makes Its Determination
Once the SSA has determined that you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, your application is reviewed by a state agency, known as Disability Determination Services (DDS). The state agency then follows a step-by-step process to determine whether and how much you are working, whether your condition is severe, whether it fits within a list of medically allowable impairments, and whether you are able to perform work in your past job or any other job, considering your age, education, skills, and medical limitations.
1. Whether you are working and your monthly earnings exceed the current allowable amount.
2. Whether your medical condition is "severe" and has continued for at least a year.
3. Whether your medical condition is on the list of impairments.
4. Whether you can do the work you once did.
5. Whether you can do any other type of work.
Special rules apply if you are blind or have low vision, if you are a worker's widow or widower, a disabled child, or a wounded warrior or veteran. You may wish to find more detailed information by visiting the SSA's website.
How an Attorney Can Help You
The Social Security claims process can be daunting. If you have further questions about whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, it's in your best interests to contact a Social Security disability attorney for a free initial claim evaluation. A skilled attorney will be able to help determine your eligibility for disability benefits and resolve any problems that may arise with your claim.
Contact a qualified social security lawyer to assist in your social security disability matter.