Am I Disabled for SSD or SSI?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a person to be disabled and eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if: (1) you cannot work because of your medical condition(s); (2) you cannot do the work you previously did or adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and (3) your medical condition(s) is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. You do not have to be bedridden, but you must be able to show these factors.

The definition of disability under Social Security is different from the definition in other programs like workers’ compensation. Social Security pays only for total disability, but does not pay for partial disability or short-term disability.

You have a qualifying disability under the SSD or SSI rules if all of the following are true:

  • You cannot do work and engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of your medical condition.
  • You cannot do work you did previously or adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
  • Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

If you have worked enough and paid into Social Security, the Social Security Administration uses a step-by-step process involving five questions to determine if you have a qualifying disability. The five questions are:

1. Are you working?

SSA generally uses earnings guidelines to evaluate whether your work activity is SGA. If you are working in 2022 and your earnings average more than $1,350 ($2,260 if you’re blind) a month, you generally cannot be considered to have a qualifying disability. If you meet this standard, SSA proceeds to the next step.

2. Is your condition “severe”?

Your condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering – for at least 12 months. If it does not, SSA will deny your application.

If you meet this standard, SSA proceeds to the next step.

3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

For each of the major body systems, SSA has a list of medical conditions it consider severe enough to prevent a person from doing SGA. If your condition is not on the list, SSA  will decide if it is as severe as a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, SSA will find that you have a qualifying disability. If it is not, then SSA goes to the next step.

4. Can you do the work you did previously?

At this step, SSA decides if your medical impairment(s) prevents you from performing any of your past work. If it does not, SSA will deny your application. If it does, then SSA goes to the next step.

5. Can you do any other type of work?

If you cannot do the work you did in the past, SSA considers if there is other work you could do despite your medical impairment(s).

SSA then considers your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot do other work, SSA will award you SSD or SSI benefits.

Have more questions about the process for applying for SSD or SSI? Give our office a call at (610) 446-3457 or click here to send us an email.