How Does the Social Security Administration Decide if You Are Disabled?

Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you have a disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to collect Social Security Disability Benefits. However, this is not automatic. SSD benefits are only available to people who have been employed long enough to earn Social Security work credits. Before you can earn SSD benefits, you have to have at least 40 credits, 20 of which have to be from within the past 10 years.

You also have to meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. This can be difficult because the SSA’s definition of disability is not a medical distinction but a legal one. While the process can be complicated, the SSA typically asks several questions to determine whether you are disabled according to its definition.

Is Your Condition Found on the List?

The SSA maintains a list of conditions that qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. These are organized according to either the type of condition, e.g., cancer, or the system of the body that they affect. Examples include the following:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Endocrine system
  • Mental disorders
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Respiratory disorders

If your condition is not on the list, it does not necessarily prevent you from collecting SSD benefits. However, it does mean that the Social Security Administration has to determine the seriousness of your condition.

Is Your Condition Severe?

Your condition must interfere with your ability to perform basic activities related to work. The interference must be long-term, lasting for at least 12 months. Examples of work-related activities that may be affected include sitting, standing, and walking. It also includes mental tasks involving cognition or memory.

Are You Working?

Eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits depends on whether your condition prevents you from working. Your condition doesn’t necessarily have to stop you from working at all, but if you are earning more than $1,310 per month on average, you generally do not qualify because the SSA does not consider you disabled.

Can You Do Other Work?

Maybe your condition prevents you from doing the work you did before you became disabled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do any work at all. The Social Security Administration determines whether there is any other work you can do based on your past work experience, transferable skills, age, and education, in addition to your medical conditions. If the SSA decides that you cannot do any other work, it may consider you disabled and accept your claim.

It is very common for the Social Security Administration to deny your initial claim, as a social security disability benefits lawyer like one from Hickey & Turim SC can explain. Though this can be discouraging, you may have a better chance upon appeal. Contact us today as one of our attorneys may be able to help you through the process.

Scroll to Top