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

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).

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

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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
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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