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

Why is the Social Security Administration definition of disability so strict?

What does the social security definition of disability actually say? Basically, that you must have a condition, physical and/or mental, this is severe enough to last at least one full year, and severe enough to prevent you from engaging in work activity at a level at which you can earn a substantial and gainful income (known as SGA). This includes working at a job you have done in the past, or working at any other type of job for which you might be suited based on your functional capacity, education, work skills, and how old you are.

At the outset, it might not seem as though this definition is particularly harsh. However, when you look at the actual outcomes of cases, it would be difficult to argue that the social security definition of disability is not strict. After all, the majority of applicants for benefits are usually denied and for those who decide to file appeals (almost always the best route to take, as opposed to giving up or starting over with a new application), it can take years before disability benefits are awarded.

Here's what the social security administration has to say about the definition of disability that is used by the SSD and SSI programs and why it is as strict as it is:

"The disability programs are designed to provide long-term protection to individuals who are totally disabled, using Social Security criteria, and unable to do any kind of work in the national economy (or, for children, if their impairment or combination of impairments does result in marked and severe functional limitations). This is the most difficult type of disability to protect against, and most people and their employers cannot afford to protect against this risk through other means. Short-term disability can be provided for through other means; e.g., workers' compensation, insurance, family, savings and investments."

Things to take away from this explanation of the definition of disability are:

1.The social security administration provides benefits on the basis of total disability. Partial disability, such as can be found in the VA disability program, is not part of the equation.

2. The social security administration builds into their thought process the notion that a person seeking disability benefits will have access to some other type of program such as short term disability benefits or insurance, or savings and investments.

Item 2, of course, is interesting because it reflects A) the fact that SSA requires that a person's disabling condition be long-lasting, B) that SSA has no problem with a claimant going broke as a result of an inability to work, and C) that SSA assumes that disabled individuals have access to short term disability insurance benefits.

Note: The social security administration does not even provide short term disability benefits to its own employees.

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:

What is the Social Security definition of disability?
How does social security define disability?
What does social security mean by disability, i.e. what is the definition?
What does the social security administration definition of disability actually say?
What is a disability according to the Social Security Administration?
Why is the Social Security Administration definition of disability so strict?
Can a college student get benefits if their parent gets Disability?
Does SSA consider my entire work history or just recent work history?
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Minnesota?
If you apply for disability in Minnesota

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.