Understanding the Social Security Administration’s Definition of Disability
If you are trying to get Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict definition of disabled.
This definition is different from that required for other programs and may reach far beyond how the average person would define disability. Because of this, understanding what the SSA means by the term disability is an important part of applying for disability benefits.
Our experienced Phoenix disability lawyers have outlined some of the details of your application the SSA will consider when determining if you are disabled and qualify for disability benefits. We can help you gather the evidence necessary to support your claim.
Are You Working?
“Disability,” according to the SSA, is based on your inability to work.
To qualify as disabled, you must not be able to maintain substantial gainful activity. Simply put, your condition must prevent you from working.
The SSA considers earning more than $1,170 per month in 2017 as substantial gainful activity.
If you are working when you apply for disability benefits, your claim will likely be denied.
Is Your Condition Severe?
Your condition must be so severe that it interferes with your work-related activities.
If, for example, you can make adjustments to your working conditions to accommodate for your disability, you may not be considered disabled according to the SSA.
Proving the severity of your condition requires medical evidence of the physical or mental impairments you suffer and how that prevents you from working.
If the SSA is not able to tell from your records that your condition prevents you from working, your claim will likely be denied.
Is Your Condition on the List of Disabling Conditions?
The SSA has a list of conditions, called the Blue Book of impairment listings, that lists medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits.
The list includes conditions for each of the major body systems and details the specific requirements that must be met for each condition in order to qualify for benefits.
When determining if you are disabled, the SSA will first look to see if your condition is included in this list.
However, even if your condition is not on the list, you may still qualify if you can prove that is equally severe to a listing or that it is so severe you cannot work.
Can You Do the Work You Did Previously?
If your medical condition is not included in the Blue Book and is not as severe as a listing in the book, the SSA will assess your residual functional capacity. This means it will examine all of the evidence in your claim to determine if you are able to do the work you were previously able to.
To do this, it will examine your:
- Employment and medical records
- Work experience
If you can continue similar work, even if you have to make an accommodation, your claim for SSD benefits will likely be denied.
Can You Do Other Types of Work?
In addition to evaluating your ability to do the work you did before you were diagnosed, the SSA will determine if you can perform any other type of work. It will also consider whether you could make some adjustments to do any type of work at all.
If the SSA determines that you can hold any type of work, even something you have never done before, your claim will likely be denied.
Getting Legal Help with Your Disability Application
Gathering the evidence to support your claim and proving that your condition prevents you from working can be difficult.
Our disability lawyers can guide you through the application process and help support your claim. If your claim is denied, we can also help you appeal the denial and represent you throughout the appeal.
Contact Dayes Law Firm PC for a free consultation to learn more. We charge no fees unless we recover compensation for you.