Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
If Am Medically Disabled, Can Social Security Still Turn Me Down for Disability for Some Reason?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
The answer to this question is maybe yes, maybe no. It really depends upon which disability program an individual is eligible for. Social Security manages two disability programs: Social Security disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI).
Social Security disability is a disability program that depends upon insured status. Insured status is earned through an individual’s past work activity. If an individual has been found medically disabled through the Social Security disability medical evaluation process, they generally cannot be turned down for any reason.
Perhaps the only reason that an individual who has been found medically disabled can be turned down is if they have returned to substantial work activity while Social Security was making their disability determination. In this situation, their disability approval would be reopened to a denial due to having earnings above the SGA limit.
SGA or substantial gainful activity is just a monthly earnings amount--or a monthly amount of hours worked if the individual is self employed--that Social Security has determined to be self-supporting. Naturally, work activity is carefully considered.
Part of the definition of disability for Social Security purposes is an inability to perform SGA for twelve continuous months or the expectation of an inability to perform SGA for twelve continuous months due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. Even if an individual is found medically disabled, they are not considered disabled by Social Security unless they are unable to perform SGA as well.
Supplemental Security Income disability is based upon need rather than insured status. Therefore, this need-based disability program, like many other social need programs, has limits upon income and resources. If an individual is medically disabled, but they have too many resources, or too much income, they will be denied for the SSI disability benefits.
Unfortunately, there are SSI applicants who are found medically disabled, only to be denied disability benefits at an "end line interview" because their income or resources have increased while the disability determination was being made.
To summarize, work activity is the only thing that can affect the eligibility of an individual for both Social Security disability and SSI disability applicants who have gone through the disability evaluation process and been approved for disability. SSI beneficiaries can be turned down for disability benefits--even if they have been approved--if they do not meet the SSI program income and resource limits.
And the income does not have to just come from work activity. By contrast, only work activity income affects a Social Security disability beneficiary’s eligibility once they have been medically approved for disability benefits.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions