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

Social Security Disability and SSI - Permanent Disability

You do not have to be permanently disabled to collect Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI income. Nonetheless, when Social Security awards disability benefits under either the SSD or SSI program, for all intents and purposes the award in many cases is synonymous with permanent disability since the majority of individuals will never be taken off disability benefit status.

That said, the social security administration still anticipates that at any given point a claimant’s condition "may" substantially improve, and thus requires those awarded disability benefits to participate in the process of a continuing disability review, or CDR. The sole purpose of the CDR process is to determine if there has been any improvement in the claimant’s medical or financial circumstances.

Approved claims are subject to “diary review dates” after one, three, and seven years, depending on the condition for which disability was awarded and the probability for improvement. Normally, all that is needed to avoid interruption of disability benefits is medical documentation that the claimant still suffers from the impairment for which disability was originally awarded, and that there has been no improvement.

Total disability vs. permanent disability

However, although you do not have to be permanently disabled to qualify for SSD or SSI benefits, you do have to be totally disabled, as defined by the social security administration (SSA).

SSA considers an individual totally disabled only if he or she is unable to earn more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount for a given year. Here is the current SGA amount for non-blind individuals.

Disability claimants must be able to document, through their medical records, that their condition is severe enough to prevent them from returning to their job, or from performing any other job for which they may be suited, for at least one year.

Social security does not define totally disabled as unable to perform any work. You can work when you apply for disability and you can work after you are awarded disability—you just can’t make more than the SGA amount (this amount is updated annually to reflect inflation and cost of living increases).

Just keep in mind that, unlike workers’ compensation, which is governed by state laws and may award benefits for partial or temporary disability depending upon the state, Social Security Disability programs are run by the federal government—no matter where you file in the United States, you will be awarded SSD or SSI benefits only if you can demonstrate a severe, ongoing physical or mental impairment, that is not likely to improve, under any circumstances, within the next year.

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:

Total Disability - Will social security try to determine if a person is totally disabled?
Will You Possibly Get Less Than Total Disability From Social Security?
To get Social Security Disability or SSI do you have to have Total Disability?
Does Social Security offer Partial Disability Benefits?
How severe must your condition be to be awarded Social Security Disability or SSI?
Social Security Disability - Permanent Disability
To get a Social Security Disability or SSI Award do you have to have a Permanent Disability?
Filing for retroactive disability benefits

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.