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

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.

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

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?
Canít 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?

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

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
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?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Criteria for Social Security Disability SSI Eligibility