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

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.

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:

When to Appeal a Disability Denial
How do I stay eligible to keep getting my disability benefits?
Does Social Security send you to a MRI or CT scan?
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?

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.