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?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
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
Will You Get Social Security Disability Benefits If You Cannot Work Your Old Job?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Social Security disability is not a long-term or short-term disability program that allows disability benefits on the basis of not being able to work your old job. Social Security disability is a total disability program that requires that an individual not be able to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) at any job due to the limitations of their disabling conditions.
SGA is a monthly amount of earnings that Social Security has determined to be substantial or self-supporting. Social Security really does not care if you earned this amount at your last job, or at another job that you have performed in the past. SGA has to do with any employment that you might have while you are attempting to win disability benefits, or employment that you might have while you are receiving disability benefits.
Since social security disability is based on an inability to engage in substantial gainful work activity due to a severe impairment (physical or mental impairment or both), you may able to be approved for benefits if A) you cannot work your old job, and B) you are unable to perform any other type of job with your skills and given your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite of your limitations).
Social Security uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to make their medical determinations on all disability claims that do not involve an impairment that meets or equals the requirements of a Social Security impairment listing in the SSA blue book (of course, even if you meet or equal an impairment listing, meaning you would be approved for disability, you still cannot be working and earning over the SGA limit).
The last two steps of the sequential evaluation process involve past work and the ability to perform other work. If you are found to be unable to work at any of your old jobs (jobs that you did for three months or longer, had time to learn, and were paid SGA-level earnings in the past fifteen years), you move to the next step which involves an evaluation as to your ability to perform other jobs.
Disability examiners consider your residual functional capacity, age, skills, and education when determining if you have the ability to transfer your skills to another job or be re-trained for other work (note: the system does offer some advantage to individuals who are fifty-five years old or more as they are not considered good candidates for retraining).
If the disability examiner determines that you are not able to perform other work, in addition to not being able to do an old job that is part of your relevant work history, you will be able to receive disability benefits provided that you are not working and earning at least the SGA amount and, in the case of SSI disability (a need-based program), you do not have countable assets in excess of two thousand dollars.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials