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

What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?

In order to qualify for social security disability (SSD) and SSI benefits, you must first be able to demonstrate that you 1) have a disability that prevents you from performing your current work and 2) that this disability would also prevent you from performing in any other position for which you may otherwise be qualified, depending on your individual abilities, age, and limitations.


1. What does SSA consider a severe impairment for Social Security Disability or SSI Disability Benefits?

2. When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?

3. When is a Person Considered Fully Disabled by Social Security?

To prove your disability, you must supply social security with both your medical history and your work history. The information in your medical and work histories must be accurate.

What you need to document

You need to document the first time you received medical treatment for your condition, the name and contact information of the attending physician, diagnosis, any medications prescribed, etc. The first date of treatment is particularly important because in the event you are approved for disability, you may be awarded back pay.

You must also provide medical records that show you are still under a doctor’s care for your condition, and are currently disabled. If you have not been receiving proper medical care because you lack medical insurance, call your county health department or social services office for a list of walk-in clinics or doctors that treat patients on a sliding scale, according to their need.

Likewise, be sure to provide a complete job history, including dates of employment and duties performed in each position. Do not leave it up to the disability examiner to determine what tasks were associated with your work—you may end up pronounced fit to perform a job for which you are not qualified and have no past experience performing.

The listings

It is true that social security does have a manual that lists the criteria of specific impairments for which disability is approved, commonly called the “blue book.” However, there are many illnesses and disorders for which disability is commonly granted that do not have a specific listing in the book, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, Lyme disease, etc.

Ultimately your disability status will be determined by your medical symptoms and how well you are able to document those symptoms and how they prevent you from being able to meet your financial needs by obtaining work in your current position, or any other work capacity for which you might otherwise be qualified.

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

Related pages:

How does social security figure out what to pay a disability attorney?
How many people get approved for disability from Social Security?
Social Security Disability SSI and mental condition diagnosis
Basic Facts about the Administrative Law Judge Social Security Disability Hearing
Waiting for a Hearing to be Scheduled before an ALJ, Administrative Law Judge
Appearing at the ALJ Hearing for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
Applying for disability, medical conditions
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits?

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

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives