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Overview of Disability

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How long does Disability take?

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Mental Disability Benefits

Denials for Disability

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Disability Benefits from SSA

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Child Disability Benefits

Qualifications and How to Qualify

Working and Disability

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Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys

Social Security List of Conditions

What Social Security considers disabling

Medical Evidence and Disability

Filing for Disability Benefits

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

SSD SSI Definitions

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What does SSA consider a severe impairment for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Benefits?

Disability examiners (the individuals who make decisions on social security disability and SSI disability claims) have to discern, when they look at a disability application, a number of things. One of those things is whether or not the claimant's condition (which may be mental, physical, or a combination of conditions) is severe.

What is severe according to the social security administration? Disability examiners actually get very little guidance on what is "severe". Obviously, for the purposes of awarding disability benefits, a sprained ankle or a minor cut is not severe, while a broken limb may potentially be severe is the limb does not heal satisfactorily. Because the word "severe" tends to be subjective, as in "many people disagree on what constitutes severe", the social security administration spends more time instead defining what is...not severe.

For SSA, a mental or physical impairment is not severe if it only results in a minimal inability to work and earn a substantial, gainful income. For children's cases, a mental or physical impairment is not severe if it only results in a minimal inability to engage in age-appropriate activities such as academic endeavors.

Most applicants who file for disability do, in fact, have at least one severe impairment. This is because the great majority of disability claimants only file a claim when their condition has become severe enough to affect their ability to work.

And, in the case of parents filing on behalf of their children, claims are usually filed when a child exhibits physical deficits (asthma, adhd, seizures) or social or cognitive deficits that are often evidenced in a school environment. The question, therefore, for disability examiners and disability judges, is whether a condition has become severe enough to put a significant burden on one's ability to work or, for children, engage in age-appropriate activities.

"How severe" a condition is can only be proven through evidence that is obtained by the social security administration, whether that evidence consists of medical records, academic records, letters from doctors, or special examinations that have been scheduled for a claimant by the social security administration. For this reason, one of the most important things a claimant can do is to always supply a detailed list of treatment sources when filing a claim for disability.

Yet, despite the obviousness of this, many claimants, when they visit a local social security office, do not supply complete information. Sometimes, they leave many of their doctors off the disability application report form. And, amazingly, sometimes claimants fail to list entire conditions that they are afflicted with.

In some cases, this may be because the claimant mistakenly assumes that social security can magically "look up" any information that pertains to their condition. However, records can only be gathered from medical treatment sources that SSA is made aware of. And for this reason claimants should supply as much information as possible when they apply for disability benefits.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

What does the Severity of your impairment have to do with Your Disability Claim?
What does SSA consider a severe impairment for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Benefits?
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
How Will Social Security Disability or SSI Look At My Case If I have More Than One Disabling Condition?
Social Security Disability Approvals - Medical Conditions and Getting Approved
How many Social Security disability cases are approved for back pain?
Will I qualify for disability due to back pain, a bone spur, and bulging discs?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?
If you have had a heart attack will you qualify for Social Security disability?
How does Social Security consider lupus as a disability?
s Bipolar Disorder a disability according to Social Security?
Is multiple sclerosis considered a disability by Social Security?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria