Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

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

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

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.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
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?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria