SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
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
Social Security Disability--Permanent Disability
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
You do not have to be permanently disabled to collect social security disability (SSD) or SSI income. In fact, the social security administration anticipates that at any given point a claimant’s condition may substantially improve, and thus requires those awarded disability benefits to participate in the process of continuing disability review, or CDR. The sole purpose of the CDR process is to determine if there has been any improvement in the claimant’s medical or financial circumstances.
Approved claims are subject to “diary review dates” after one, three, and seven years, depending on the condition for which disability was awarded and the probability for improvement. Normally all that is needed to avoid interruption of disability benefits is medical documentation that the claimant still suffers from the impairment for which disability was originally awarded, and that there has been no improvement.
However, although you do not have to be permanently disabled to qualify for SSD or SSI benefits, you do have to be totally disabled, as defined by the social security administration (SSA). SSA considers an individual totally disabled only if he or she is unable to earn more that the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount for a given year.
The monthly SGA for 2012 is about $1040.00 for non-blind individuals (to see the current SGA amount). Disability claimants must be able to document, through their medical records, that their condition is severe enough to prevent them from returning to their job, or from performing any other job for which they may be suited, for at least one year.
Social security does not define totally disabled as unable to perform any work. You can work when you apply for disability and you can work after you are awarded disability—you just can’t make more than the SGA amount (this amount is updated annually to reflect inflation and cost of living increases).
Just keep in mind that, unlike workers’ compensation, which is governed by state laws and may award benefits for partial or temporary disability depending upon the state, social security disability programs are run by the federal government—no matter where you file in the United States, you will be awarded SSD or SSI benefits only if you can demonstrate a severe, ongoing physical or mental impairment, that is not likely to improve, under any circumstances, within the next year.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page