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

Can you get Disability if you are unemployable?

The answer to this question is that it depends on why you are unemployable. Let me state upfront that the SSD program (social security disability) and SSI disability program revolve around the evaluation of a claimant's records in order to determine one single, solitary thing: can the claimant work?

More specifically, both disability examiners (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration levels) and administrative law judges (ALJs make decisions at disability hearings) evaluate a claimant's medical records, work history, educational records, and daily activity questionaires to learn A) whether or not a claimant can do any of the jobs they've done in the last 15 years and B) whether or not a claimant can do some form of other work.

Many individuals who file for disability will have no trouble "getting out of past work"; in other words, it is quite common for the adjudicator to evaluate their case and reach the conclusion that they can no longer do their past work. "Other work", however, is a more difficult hurdle to get past.

Why is this? Answer---other work can be nearly "anything", meaning nearly any job that exists in the national economy, regardless of whether or not the job actually exists in the state you reside in. Doesn't sound quite fair does it? It certainly is not.

Fortunately, however, there are factors that mediate this, such as---

1. The individual's education. A claimant's level of education will limit or broaden the number and types of jobs available to them.

2. The individual's current restrictions (which can be mental or physical), which are rated by the social security administration based on a review of the claimant's medical records. Obviously, a person with memory impairment will be unable to perform certain jobs, a person with vertigo or epilepsy will be unable to do work that involves heights, a person with migraines will be unable to work in environments involving odors and bright lights (since these often serve as migraine triggers).

3. The individual's work skills. More transferrable jobs mean a broader range of other work is available, whereas fewer job skills mean the opposite.

4. The individual's age. Simply put, a claimant who has attained age 50 will be evaluated under a different set of medical and vocation rules than younger individuals and claimants who have attained age 55 will be evaluated under rules that are even more favorable than this.

So, to answer the question---can you get disability if you are unemployed? Yes, if you are unable to work due to your physical or mental condition, you may possibly be approved for disability. I say "possibly" because a person may still work and apply for disability or receive disability. However, disability benefits will be awarded to the individual who has enough limitations that they can longer work and at the same time earn what is known as SGA (the amount a person may earn each month while still qualifying for disability).

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

Related pages:

How do I apply for disability, when
Who works on your Social Security Disability or SSI case?
Mean and rude Social Security judges
Looking for a good disability lawyer
Who is eligible for SSI, how do I apply?
How to File for SSI
How long does it take to get a disability approval letter?
Applying for disability, medical conditions
Disability requirements and how to file in Florida
How do you Apply for SSI?
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?

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