Will You Possibly Get Less Than Total Disability From Social Security?

Social Security Disability is not a partial or percentage disability program. The definition of Social Security Disability holds that a disability is a physical or mental condition that has prevented a person from performing substantial gainful activity (work) for at least twelve month, or is expected to prevent SGA for twelve months.

SGA, or substantial gainful activity can be defined as a monthly earnings amount that Social Security considers self-supporting.

To qualify for disability a person must not be able to perform any of their past work (work they have performed in the past fifteen years that was at the SGA-level and which lasted three months or more) or any other work due to the limitations caused by their disability.

Unlike partial disability programs such as Veteran's Administration disability, Social Security Disability does not award partial disability benefits based on a percentage of disability.

Social Security is not like short term disability or long term disability benefits provided by employers, in that, to be awarded disability benefits through Social Security or SSI, an individual must not only be unable to perform their usual line of work, but other kinds of work as well. For this reason, an individual will never receive less than total disability from Social Security.

It was my experience as a disability examiner that many individuals who were eligible for veteran's benefits or long term employer disability benefits sometimes had a hard time being approved for Social Security Disability, simply because the criteria for Social Security Disability determinations are much stricter than criteria used to make long term disability or veteran's disability determinations.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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