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Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Requirements for Disability

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Tips and Advice for Disability Claims

How long does Disability take?

Winning Disability Benefits

Common Mistakes after a Denial

Mental Disability Benefits

Denials for Disability

Appeals for denied claims

Disability Benefits from SSA

SSI Benefits

Child Disability Benefits

Qualifications and How to Qualify

Working and Disability

Disability Awards and Notices

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 the social security administration definition of disability actually say?

What does the social security administration definition of disability actually say? To be considered disabled by SSA, for either Social security disability or SSI disability benefits, a person must:

1. Have a severe impairment that is medically documented.

2. The impairment must either have lasted for a full year or be projected to last for a full year.

3. The impairment must be severe enough to prevent the individual from working and earning a substantial and gainful income, or SGA, while doing either one of their former jobs (which could potentially be any of their past work performed within the last 15 jobs), or while doing some type of other work that they might be suited for based on their age, job skills, education, and functional capacity.

So, to recap, to qualify for disability benefits with SSA, your condition must satisfy a one year requirement. It must last this long, or be thought to eventually last this long. The severity of the condition must also rule out the ability to work at a certain level, which is the SGA earning level (see the link in the preceding paragraph to see how SGA is defined). If a condition is this severe, a person may qualify for SSD benefits or qualify for SSI disability benefits.

Proving this level of severity, of course, depends on both the information in the claimant's medical records and on properly presenting the case (particularly at a disability hearing where the burden of gathering evidence and statements from physicians falls entirely upon the claimant and/or their disability attorney).

Many claimants are surprised to learn this because at the disability application level, the social security administration, through a disability examiner who has been assigned to the case, will gather records from all the treatment sources indicated by the claimant on the application. This is also what happens when a different disability examiner processes the claimant's request for reconsideration appeal.

At the hearing level, though, social security does not obtain evidence on behalf of the case. And many claimants who choose to go to their hearing unrepresented do not learn or realize this fact until they actually show up at the hearing office; whereas claimants who have representation will typically have had updated records submitted to the administrative law judge before the hearing occurs.

And, often, a claimant's attorney will continue to work on obtaining additional medical evidence in the form of records or physician statements if such evidence will bolster a case and improve the chances of winning benefits.

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

Related pages:

What is the Social Security definition of disability?
How does social security define disability?
What does social security mean by disability, i.e. what is the definition?
What does the social security administration definition of disability actually say?
What is a disability according to the Social Security Administration?
Why is the Social Security Administration definition of disability so strict?

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.

How to file for disability, SSD or SSI
How to file for Disability and what medical conditions qualify
How long will it take to get disability?
What if your disability gets denied?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How to get disability with a mental condition
How long for Social Security Disability Back pay
Social Security Disability SSI eligibility