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How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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).








Essential Questions

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state



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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








For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.