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

How Disabling Does A Condition Have To Be For Social Security Disability, SSDI Benefits?

The Social Security definition of disability explains how disabling a condition has to be to receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or SSI benefits based on disability.

The definition of disability holds that for a person to be considered disabled, they must have a medically determinable impairment that has prevented them from working and earning a substantial and gainful income for twelve continuous months; or have an impairment that is expected to prevent this for twelve months; or is expected to result in their death.

Any mental or medical condition that meets the definition is considered to be a severe impairment. However, there are many individuals with severe impairments who are working full time jobs in spite of their conditions. Social Security considers not only the severity of an individualís disabling condition but how restrictive their residual functional capacity (what they can still do even with their condition) is when making a disability determination.

Social Security establishes a monthly earnings amount that it considers to equate to substantial gainful work activity every year. If an individual is able to earn over the SGA monthly earnings amount without special work considerations (some employers allow employees to rest more, sit more, take more time off, or even let them earn their pay but produce less work), their disability claim will be denied without a being sent to a disability examiner at disability determination services for a medical determination.

Social Security uses medical records, disability questionnaires (both from the applicant and their third party contact), and any other evidence that might help them determine an individualís residual functional capacity assessment when making a disability determination.

If an individualís condition causes their capacity assessment to be so restrictive that they cannot engage in gainful work activity, they may be eligible for disability benefits.

Social Security should never be confused with partial disability programs, workmanís compensation, short-term disability, or a "percentage of loss disability program" such as veteranís disability. Social Security disability is a total disability program and that means an individualís impairment has to be so disabling that they are not able to work at a former job or at any other type of job that their age, education, and skills might make them eligible for.

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

Related pages:

What is considered a Disabling medical condition by Social Security?
Can you File for Disability for more than one Condition?
How Disabling Does A Condition Have To Be For Social Security Disability, SSDI Benefits?
Receiving Benefits - Your Medical Condition and Social Security Disability or SSI
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?
Receiving disability for a mental condition in North Carolina
What condition or conditions qualifies for disability in North Carolina?
Social Security Disability Approvals - Medical Conditions and Getting Approved
Disability Attorney did not advise filing an appeal - onset date issue

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