Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

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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

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Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

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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

Should I apply for SSI?

Someone recently asked if they should apply for SSI, noting that they had a college degree, and describing their condition as a "small disability". I used to be a disability examiner for the social security administration's disability determination services.


1. Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI
2. How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
3. What if my SSI or Social Security Disability Application is denied?
4. Filing an Application for Disability

I usually tell people to initiate filing a claim for disability if they are either unable to work and earn what the social security administration refers to as a substantial and gainful income, or, for those who are currently working, if their medical condition begins to limit them to the extent that it is beginning to affect their ability to perform their job and has also (this part is very important) limited their presence on the job to the extent that their earnings are now below the threshold for SGA.

SGA is the acronym for substantial gainful activity and it refers to a dollar amount cutoff. Basically, if you work and make less than this amount, you can apply for disability. If you work and earn more than this amount, you can attempt to file, but your claim will be immediately denied and you will be given a "technical denial", meaning your medical records will not even be evaluated because you simply make too much income.

In your case, it sounds as though you have no income. You refer to your education and characterize your disability as a small one. But these really aren't relevant issues for social security disability or SSI disability (a program that supplies disability benefits to those who have not worked long enough to earn the required credits to qualify for disability). Education has only a nominal effect on claims and your disability, as far as SSA is concerned, is only relevant in terms of how it affects your ability to engage in work activity.

For filing for SSI disability and social security disability, the only issue is whether or not your condition prevents you from being able to work and earn a "substantial and gainful income". And the first step to proving that is whether or not you have earnings that are either above or below the SGA limit. If you have earnings below the SGA limit, and it sounds as though you do, then you should be able to file your claim. After that, whether or not you receive benefits will depend on what your medical records have to say about your specific functional limitations.

I should point out that social security is not concerned with your "ability to find a job". That is not a relevant issue (I won't get into vocational issues, the DOT, assertions by vocational experts at hearings, and the "citing of jobs" because I don't think that lends helpfully to this question). What is relevant is that your medical records indicate functional limitations that preclude the possibility of working and earning a substantial and gainful income.

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

Related pages:

Social Security Disability Maximum back pay
SSI disability Application Requirements
Do I Have To Quit My Job To qualify and Get Disability?
Mental disorders and filing for SSD or SSI
How to start a disability appeal with Social Security
What A Social Security disability determination is based on
Are you required to have an attorney at a disability hearing?
Social Security Disability Claims and Medical Exams
Factors involved in Winning SSDI or SSI Claims
How to file for disability in kansas
Filing for disability with neuropathy
Should you get a Disability Lawyer before you File?
How to file for disability in California
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Filing for disability with scoliosis

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?
SSI disability status
How to prove you qualify for disability
Qualifying for disability eligibility requirements
How Does Social Security Decide If You Are Disabled
How much does disability pay?
Factors involved in Winning SSDI or SSI Claims
Applying for disability with Degenerative Disc Disease
How long to get a Social Security decision letter?
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
The amount of back pay that you receive
Social Security medical disability determination process
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits?
How Long Does A Social Security Disability Appeal Take?
How Long Does It Take To Get Disability Benefits When You First File?
Can you work if you get SSI disability?
Social Security Disability attorney fees
Am I eligible to receive disability benefits?
What are the non medical requirements for disability
How to get SSI
Approved for disability benefits
SSD SSI disability hearing decision