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

If my medical condition keeps me from working will I get Social Security Disability?

Certainly, one criteria of Social Security Disability and SSI eligibility is that you must be unable to work at any meaningful level for a period of not less than twelve months, which is the minimum duration length in order to be determined "disabled".

Note: for the social security administration, working at a meaningful level means working at the SGA, or substantial gainful activity level. SGA is an earnings limit that applies to anyone who is working and filing for disability or working and receiving disability benefits. (Current SGA limit)

The ability or inability to engage in work activity is a huge consideration when it comes to determining eligibility for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.

However, the simple fact that a person is not working or has not worked for some time does not automatically guarantee that they will be medically allowed (another way of saying "approved") for Social Security or SSI disability. All applicants must go through the Social Security Disability medical determination process to determine if their condition or conditions meet the medical disability criteria set by Social Security.

This process is essentially the same regardless of whether a claim is being decided by a disability examiner at the initial claim or reconsideration appeal level, or by an ALJ (federal administrative law judge) at the disability hearing level.

What is involved in the disability determination process?

The process involves a review of a claimant's medical records and work history and is designed to answer the following questions:

1. Does the individual have a severe impairment versus a non-severe impairment?

2. Will the individual's impairment or impairments (which can be mental or physical in nature) be severe enough to make it impossible for them to work at a substantial and gainful level (meaning that they will be unable to work and earn what is considered to be SGA-level income) at:

A) Potentially any job they have done in the past


B) At any other type of work for which they might be vocationally suited (based on education, age, skills, and current physical and mental limitations) for at least one full year.

How does the social security administration's disability evaluation process answer these questions? The process begins with the adjudicator (depending on the level of the claim, this will be a disability examiner or a judge) gathering the claimant's medical records.

These will be reviewed so that the claimant's current limitations can be rated. Rating a person's physical and mental limitations is part of the process because this allows the adjudicator to determine if the claimant can go back to one of their past jobs.

And, of course, to make this determination, the adjudicator will not only need to review the claimant's medical records, but their work history as well.

In either case, the disability examiner or the disability judge will rely heavily on the information provided by the claimant. For instance, the claimant's medical records from a particular doctor or medical treatment source cannot be obtained if the claimant does not provide the correct name and contact information for the doctor or facility when they initially file for disability.

Likewise, the adjudicator cannot be expected to accurately determine if the claimant has the ability or inability to return to a past job or switch to some new type of employment if the claimant has not provided a proper job title and description for their past jobs.

Note: accurate job descriptions are essential because the examiner will, as part of the disability determination process, be required to identify the claimant's jobs in a reference source that lists the duties of the job as well as the requirements of the job)

In the final analysis, the answer to the question we began with is, yes, if an individual's medical condition keeps them from working, and they, therefore, meet the social security definition of disability, they will be approved for disability benefits by the social security administration.

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:

Are You Allowed to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability or SSI?
What is an unsuccessful work attempt?
If my medical condition keeps me from working will I get Social Security Disability?
Can’t Work In My Old Job, How Does Social Security Disability Consider This?
Social Security Disability And Trial Work Months: You are allowed to Work
Medical Disability - How does Social Security view your work and medical records
Is there a Maximum I can Work and Make if I am on SSD or SSI Disability Benefits?
Working while getting Disability - Is it Possible?
Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?
Can I work without it affecting my Social Security Disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply for disability?
Will working part-time affect my SSD?
Working while on Social Security Disability and Not Reporting
What is SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity)?
If I Apply For Disability And Go Back To Work, Do I Need To Report This?
Are you allowed to work at all if you get Social Security Disability or SSI?
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Georgia
Denied Disability Appeal Georgia

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?

Criteria for Social Security Disability SSI Eligibility

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.