How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

How Disabled Must You be to get Social Security Disability Approved?

In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must be impaired to the extent that you are unable to earn the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount each month, for a period of not less than one year.

The SGA amount is determined each year by the Social Security Administration, and if you are able to earn at least this amount or more, you will not qualify for disability benefits regardless of your level of disability.

Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are not awarded on the basis of the severity of the impairment alone. Rather, disability benefits are awarded to those who are unable to perform substantial, gainful work as a result of limitations placed upon them by their symptoms.

There is no condition that guarantees disability approval. For adults, the standard of proof is medical documentation of a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from performing any job they have held in the past 15 years, or any other job that someone of their age, educational background, work skills, and of course physical or mental limitations could perform.

For children, the standard of proof is medical and educational documentation that indicates they are not able to function at the same academic or social level as their peers.

So, when applying for disability, the question is not simply how disabled you are, but how your disability limits your ability to function at work, at home, or if you are a child, in an educational environment.

In addition, the appearance of disability is not always a good indicator of how impaired a person truly is. Many mental disorders remain largely hidden; even schizophrenia symptoms can often be controlled to some extent with medication. However, this is a far cry from assuming that someone with schizophrenia is capable of holding gainful employment.

In other disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, manic depression, etc., symptoms can be subject to flare-ups or cyclical in nature. Again, even if the level of disability is not constant, Social Security does not measure one’s level of impairment by the appearance of disability, but by what medical records indicate about this individual’s ability to function.

Vocational placement is just as much a part of a disability examiner or judge’s decision-making process as any medical limitations a claimant has, which is why people who are younger, have more education, work skills, etc., are less likely to be awarded disability and more likely to be denied on the basis that it is easier for them to switch jobs or be trained to perform some other type of work.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

Denied Social Security Disability Appeal
Getting Disability and Trying to work
How many times can I appeal my Social Security Disability or SSI?
If Am Medically Disabled, Can Social Security Still Turn Me Down for Disability for Some Reason?
How will Social Security find you disabled?
When is a Person Considered Fully Disabled by Social Security?
Being Determined Medically Disabled for Social Security Disability
How Does Social Security Decide If You Are Disabled Or Not?
What makes you disabled for SSD, Social Security Disability Benefits, OR SSI?
How Disabled Must You be to get Social Security Disability Approved?
How Disabled Do You Have To Be To Collect Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I apply for disability and my doctor says I am disabled, is there a waiting period to receive benefits?
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Pennsylvania
If you apply for disability in Pennsylvania
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Pennsylvania?

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

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.