Social Security Disability Resource Center

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Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

When does SSA, the Social Security Administration, consider a person disabled?

Someone mentioned to me that they had misunderstood the SSA (social security administration) definition of disability. They assumed that to be considered disabled for social security disability, a person's condition of disability had to be in place for 12 months before they could even apply for disability benefits. This is what I wrote back.

The actual definition of disability used by SSA states that a condition must be of sufficient severity such that it limits an individual's ability to work and earn a monthly earned amount (gross income) equal to SGA, or substantial gainful activity, and that this condition must either A) have already lasted one full year or B) be projected to last at least one full year (according to the medical records).

The SSA (social security administration) definition of disability gets difficult to explain because even disability examiners and other cogs in the system (I used to be one of them) will typically tell claimants that, to be approved for disability, they can't have worked for a year. In actuality, they're just trying to simplify the answer so they don't have to spend 15 minutes explaining how things work.

Just FYI, though most disabled individuals filing for disability will not be working at the time they submit an application, the system actually allows a person to be employed when they A) file a claim and B) even when they're receiving benefits (assuming they get approved, of course).

The caveat is that the same individual cannot be working and earning at least the SGA limit for any given year. This means that a person on disability or applying for disability is limited to earning less than the current SGA amount (to see what that is, go here: SGA, substantial gainful activity).

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    Related pages:

    How to file for disability in Minnesota
    How is memory loss considered by Social Security Disability?
    Is Morbid Obesity Considered A Disability?
    Appealing a Social Security Disability Claim decision
    Enough Work Credits For Social Security Disability Benefits?
    Memory loss and filing for disability
    The SSDI SSI disability application, how to file
    Working and getting Disability
    Contacting Social Security about the status of your disability claim
    How to qualify for disability with depression
    How to file for disability in Maine
    Migraines and PTSD often occur together
    Study Found Narcolepsy is an Autoimmune Disease
    Psoriasis and links to inflammation, diabetes, and hypertension
    Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
    Filing for disability with lupus

    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

    Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
    What is the status of your social security disability or SSI case
    Rules and requirements to apply for disability
    Will I qualify for disability?
    Apply for disability for any medical condition
    Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
    If your disability claim is approved or denied
    Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
    Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
    Social Security Disability SSI reviews
    How social security evaluates attention deficit
    Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
    Tips for Getting Disability Approved
    How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
    SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
    Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
    Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
    Can you work if you get Disability?
    Who qualifies for SSI and how
    How to file for disability and where to apply
    Conditions that may qualify as disability
    Denied on a disability application
    Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing