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

To get Social Security Disability or SSI do you have to have Total Disability?

Yes, to be awarded benefits under Social Security Disability or the SSI program, your condition has to be considered totally disabling by SSA under their particular rules and guidelines.

What is total disability according to the social security administration? Essentially, the definition of disability used by SSA states a person's disabling condition (which may be physical, or mental, or a combination of several conditions that may be physical or mental in nature) must last a certain minimum length of time before that person may be considered disabled.

That minimum is one full year. If the individual who is attempting to qualify for disability benefits does not remain disabled for at least this length of time, they are not considered to be disabled according to the social security administration definition of disability.

Length of time, however, is not the only part of the definition of disability. The other, and equally important part is that the condition must be severe. And not just minimally severe. The severity level must be extensive enough that the individual cannot engage in normal activities and, more specifically, cannot perform the duties of their past jobs.

Even more than this, the condition must be severe enough that the person applying for disability cannot be expected--because of the functional limitations presented by their medical condition or mental condition--to have the ability to use their education and work skills to switch to some type of other work.

This is what social security means by total disability, that a person's condition makes it impossible for them to work and earn a livable income at one of their old jobs, or at a job that their skills and talents might otherwise qualify them for.

Note: to meet the SSA definition of disability, a person's disabling condition or conditions must last for at least one year (while also preventing work activity). However, this does not mean that a person must wait for a full year after developing a condition, or wait one year after stopping work to file for disability.

An individual with a disabling condition can apply at any time for benefits. At the time a decision is made on the claim, if the claimant's condition has not lasted for the one year minimum duration thus far, the disability examiner or the social security judge (if the case is at the hearing level) can review the claimant's medical records to determine if it likely that the functional limitations caused by the claimant's condition will inevitably last for at least one full year.

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:

Total Disability - Will social security try to determine if a person is totally disabled?
Will You Possibly Get Less Than Total Disability From Social Security?
To get Social Security Disability or SSI do you have to have Total Disability?
Does Social Security offer Partial Disability Benefits?
How severe must your condition be to be awarded Social Security Disability or SSI?
Social Security Disability - Permanent Disability
To get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award do you have to have a Permanent Disability?
Was I treated unfairly by the judge at my disability hearing?
Filing for Social Security on the record of a spouse while still working
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Alabama
How long can it take to get disability in Colorado?

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.