How long does your condition have to last to qualify for disability?
What does Social Security mean by disability? The real question is how does the SSA define disability? It might surprise some individuals to learn just how specific the social security definition of disability really is.
The SSA definition of disability is generally recited as follows: an individual who is filing for either Social Security Disability or SSI disability will be found to be disabled if the determination is made, by a disability examiner or a disability judge, that they have been unable to engage in substantial gainful work activity due to a medical condition (physical or mental in nature) that has either lasted 12 months, or can be projected to last at least 12 months.
This definition is certainly obtuse, but this is essentially what it means. To be approved for either Social Security Disability or SSI, you must have ----
1. A condition that lasts at least 12 months (you do not have to disabled for 12 months BEFORE you apply for disability as long as the medical evidence shows that your condition WILL LAST for at least 12 months).
2. A condition that is severe enough to keep you from working entirely OR is severe enough to keep you from working and earning at least at least the SGA (substantial gainful activity) amount for a given year (to see the current amount, go to this page on substantial gainful activity).
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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