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

To qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI, how severe must a condition be?

Social Security Disability is determined by an individual’s mental or physical functional limitations, which prevent them from being able to perform work activity (including past work and other forms of work). Therefore, any condition that prevents an individual from working, or limits the degree to which they can work, may be considered a severe condition by the social security administration.

How does the Social Security Administration determine that a condition is severe enough to qualify a person for disability benefits? If the claim is at the disability application or request for reconsideration level, a disability examiner who works in a state-level DDS agency (disability determination services, the agency that makes decisions on disability claims for the social security administation) will consider all the information contained in the claimant's medical records.

This, of course, may include supporting statements from the claimant's treating physician(s). Using this information, the examiner will determine to what extent, and in what ways, the claimant is functionally limited.

For example, does the individual have neurological deficits, or deficits with regard to hearing or seeing, or being able to ambulate (move about)? Do they have range of motion problems? Do they have trouble using their hands, or standing or sitting longer than a certain period? In the case of mental impairments, do they have difficulty with concentration, or remembering.

The functional limitations that are indicated by the medical evidence will allow the disability examiner to decide how to rate the claimant (for physical conditions, for example, ratings can include the ability to do medium level work, light duty work, sedentary work, and less than sedentary work).

This rating--or ratings if the claimant has both physical and mental conditions--will be compared to the types of work that were performed by the claimant within the prior fifteen year period. And this comparison will allow the disability examiner to determine if the disability claim will be approved or denied.

If the disability case has moved beyond the first two levels (application and reconsideration), and is now at the level of a Social Security Disability or SSI hearing, the same evaluation process will be used, only this time it will be conducted by a federal administrative law judge. And at this hearing, the claimant and their attorney will be allowed to present new evidence and challenge the basis of the prior decisions (i.e. the denials of the claim) in the attempt to A) win ongoing monthly disability benefits, and B) obtain as much back pay as possible for the claimant.

Often, individual have multiple impairments that, taken by themselves, may not be severe enough to qualify for Social Security Disability. However, when taken together along with an individual’s age and education, they may result in a Social Security Disability allowance. In other words, an approval for SSD benefits or SSI disability benefits.

If your condition or conditions have been preventing you from engaging in work activity that enables you to earn a substantial and gainful income, you should contact your local Social Security office or call the toll free number to file a disability application.

You may also seek representation from a disability representative at any time to assist you with your claim. Representation is not required, but for individuals who will eventually have their case decided at the hearing level (before a federal judge), it can provide a significant advantage in terms of case preparation.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

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

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI, how severe must a condition be?
Can You Qualify for Disability if you did not work much?
How Do You Qualify For Disability without Money To Go To the Doctor?
The Qualification Criteria for Social Security Disability
What If You Did Not Work Long Enough To Qualify For Disability?
Qualifying for Disability - What is Social Security Looking for?
Do You Qualify For Social Security Disability Insurance?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Do You Have To Qualify For SSI Financially?
How does work qualify you for disability? (work credits)
Tips for SSD and SSI disability hearings
If you apply for disability in Virginia

Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Virginia?

Getting a Disability Lawyer in Virginia

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

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.