Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?

There is a definition of disability that is used by the social security administration for both the social security disability and SSI disability programs. Though it might surprise some people, the definition is just as dependent on vocational information as it is on medical information.

What does the SSA definition of disability say? Basically that, to qualify for disability benefits, a person's condition (or conditions, and they can be either physical or mental, or more than one of each) must be severe enough that they no longer have the ability to work and earn a substantial and gainful income.

The way the definition is applied is as follows:

A disability examiner working on a disability claim will thoroughly review an applicant's medical records to determine what their limitations are.

For physical limitations, the disability examiner will review the records and then rate the claimant as being able to perform heavy, medium, light, sedentary, or less than sedentary work activity. Less than sedentary will always result in a disability approval, while being rated at a higher work activity level may result in an approval depending on other factors.

Those factors include what the claimant did in their past work (and what those jobs required), what the claimant's work skills are, how well educated they are, and how old they are. The older you are, the more consideration the disability system will give since it is generally assumed that with greater age has a person has fewer job opportunities.

The physical rating that a claimant receives (known as their RFC, or residual functional capacity, rating) will be used to determine if they receive disability benefits. However, claimants are also rated for their mental limitations.

An MRFC, or mental residual functional capacity rating, is conducted if the claimant indicated on their disablity application that they had a cognitive problem (learning disability or memory problems, or limited IQ) or psychiatric problems (depression, bipolar disorder).

The MRFC rating will indicate whether or not the claimant has any of the following: difficulty learning new tasks, performing tasks that require attention and concentration, working in a changing work environment, integrating with co-workers and supervisory personnel, and a wide range of other mental characteristics that would impact their ability to persist in a work environment.

The mental and physical ratings a claimant receives from a disability examiner--and the medical and the mental consultants that the disability examiner works with in his or her claims processing unit--will be used to determine several things. The first will be whether or not the claimant still has the ability to work at one of their former jobs. If that is not possible, the examiner will decide whether or not the claimant can do some type of other work. If that is also not possible, the examiner may decide that the claimant is disabled.

continued at: Eligibility for Disability Benefits as Viewed by Social Security

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    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

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
    Who is eligible for SSI Disability?
    Disability Criteria - Eligibility For Social Security and SSI Disability
    Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
    Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
    Can you apply for disability on the basis of multiple health problems?
    What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
    Inability to Work and Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
    What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
    If You Are Currently Working Are You Eligible To Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
    Will Being A Veteran Affect Your Eligibility And Chances For Social Security Disability?
    Are SSD and SSI disability cases decided the same way in terms of Eligibility?
    Is the Medical Criteria to Get Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits hard?
    Criteria for how Social Security Disability is Awarded
    Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
    Getting a Disability Lawyer in California
    Will I qualify for disability Benefits in California?
    How long does it take to get disability in California?

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

    Filing an application for disability
    Filing for disability - where to go
    How to qualify for disability
    Qualifying for disability
    Winning disability benefits, how to win
    Winning disability for a mental condition
    Social Security Disability Back pay, SSD, SSI
    Disability Criteria and requirements