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

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SSDRC Disability Blog

What are the requirements and criteria for social security disability?

Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits can be considered in two separate ways.

First, is the individual actually insured for SSD? In other words, has the person worked enough to achieve eligibility to apply for social security disability?

If the person has (and in most cases, for an adult with a history of employment, this will be true), then the issue will be whether or not the person meets the eligibility requirements of the social security administration's disability program.

What are the requirements and criteria for social security disability? The definition used by SSA is fairly obtuse, but this is what it boils down to. To be awarded disability benefits, a claimant must:

Criteria 1. Have a condition (physical or mental or both) that is considered severe. For claims in which there is only a non-severe impairment, the claim will be denied on this basis. How is the determination made as to whether an impairment is severe or non-severe? This is, to some extent, a subjective determination. However, to use a loose example, arthritis or asthma or degenerative disc disease would all be considered severe impairments, while a sprained wrist would not.

Criteria 2. Have a condition, physical or mental, which lasts for at least a year. Does this mean that the condition must last at least twelve months before a person can apply for disability? No, if the condition has not existed for at least twelve months at the time of application, when the case is evaluated, a projection will be made as to whether or not the condition will last this long. In cases where it is decided that a claimant's condition will not last at least this long, the claim may be denied on the basis of duration (failure to satisfy the minimum time period).

In addition to these requirements, there are additional requirements that determine an individual's eligibility for social security disability benefits. After a claimant's medical records have been examined, the determination will be made as to whether or not the claimant can:

A. Return to their past work.

B. Perform some other type of work.

Even if an applicant for social security disability has a severe impairment that has lasted, or can be projected to last, at least 12 months, if the determination is made that they can return to their past work, they will be denied for benefits. What is past work? Past work can actually include any job that the claimant performed for a year or longer within the last 15 years.

If it is decided that a person cannot return to their past work, the next step will be to decide whether or not it is possible for them to do some "other type of work". This is, very often, how applicants for social security disability are denied.

What is "other work"? Other work can include a wide range of jobs for which a person might be eligible to perform based on their age, education, work skills, the transferrability of their work skills, and the current limitations they have as a result of their medical or mental condition or conditions.

When a disability case is denied at the application or reconsideration/review stage on the basis that they can do other work, there is nothing a claimant can do about this, other than to appeal the decision.

However, when a claimant gets to a disability hearing before a judge, the lawyer that handles their case can present the argument that A. they are incapable of returning to their past work and B. they are incapable of doing other work. When a representative or lawyer successfully makes this argument, a claimant will meet the program criteria and eligibility requirements and be approved for disability benefits.

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

Related pages:

Disability Criteria - Eligibility For Social Security and SSI Disability
Eligibility Requirements and Criteria to Qualify for disability
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
The Social Security Disability Approval Process and the Criteria for Decisions
How does SSA determine if a claim will be a denial or an approval?
Do you have to quit your job before filing for disability?
Can you qualify for Social Security Disability on the basis of fibromyalgia?
What are the requirements and criteria for social security disability?
Can you get disability if you are younger age?
Disability at age 50 or older
Social Security Disability SSI and proving you can't work
How Residual Functional Capacity affects Social Security Disability and SSI claims
If I am waiting for a Disability Hearing, how often should I see my doctor?
Calling Social Security about a Disability Exam that was scheduled
How does social security decide your disability claim?

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

How to file for disability, filing tips
What to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits
Applying for disability benefits, SSI and SSDI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability?
Will you get disability back pay?
Social Security Disability And SSI Qualifications
Permanent Disability Qualifications for SSD and SSI
Social Security Disability SSI status
Disability lawyer representation, finding lawyers
Who will qualify for disability and what qualifying is based on
Qualifications for Disability Benefits
Important points about filing for disability
How long does it take to get disability after applying?
Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability?
Who is eligible for SSI disability?
How to get disability in Florida