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How Does the Social Security Administration Define "Disability"?

Scott Monge

When the Social Security Administration is determining whether or not you qualify for disability benefits, it's not just a matter of whether or not you're able to currently work—your caseworker is looking for total disability. Total disability means that your medical condition has already, or is expected to, keep you from performing substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months. There are other options for you if you are not suffering from total disability, but those involve short-term disability benefits and are usually obtained through private insurance or a government program.

The Social Security Administration looks at your inability to work when determining if you fit their definition of "disabled." You will generally be considered disabled if:

  • You can't do the work that you did before your medical condition happened.
  • You can't adjust to doing another type of work.
  • Your medical condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

The condition that qualifies you as disabled does not have to be just physical—it can be psychological or psychiatric as well.

The Social Security Administration maintains a very extensive list of various conditions that can qualify someone for disability benefits. Even if your condition is not listed for some reason, they will still evaluate it to see if it is equivalent to a condition that is already on the list.

If you believe that you fit the Social Security Administration's definition of "disabled" and need assistance with your application, call (800) 860-8021 to schedule a free consultation with the attorneys of Monge & Associates.


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