In order to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability.
You're only entitled to benefits under this program if you're totally disabled.
You're considered disabled if:
- You cannot perform work you've done in the past.
- You're unable to do other types of work because of your disability.
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to continue for one year, or is expected to result in your death.
5 Questions the SSA Asks to Determine Disability
The SSA uses this step-by-step process to evaluate the level of disability and benefits eligibility. Each applicant is reviewed in this manner.
1. Are you working?
If you're still working and were earning an average of $1,180 per month in 2018, you wouldn't be considered disabled. If you're not working, or only earning less than the amount set by SSA, your file would be sent to the Disability Determination Services office to ask questions two through five to make a determination on your disability.
2. Is your condition severe?
In order for your medical condition to be considered severe, it must limit your ability to engage in basic work duties, such as lifting, standing, walking, and remembering, for 12 months or more. If not, the SSA wouldn't consider you disabled. If so, the process continues to question three.
3. Is your condition found on the SSA list of disabling conditions?
The SSA's Listing of Impairments is the guidelines by which the agency determines medical severity that prevents someone from engaging in substantial gainful activity. If your condition is on this list, a determination of disability should be granted. If not, the evaluation continues to question four.
4. Can you do the work you did previously?
The next step is to determine if your medical disability prevents you doing previous job duties. If you're still able to perform them, the SSA wouldn't find you to be disabled. If you're unable to do those jobs, the SSA would proceed to the last question.
5. Can you perform any other work?
In considering this, the SSA looks at these factors:
- Your medical conditions
- Your age
- Your level of education
- Your past work history
- Any skills that you have that are transferrable
If the SSA determines you could work in another field, the decision is that you're ineligible for SSDI benefits. If the final determination is that you're unable to perform another job, you'll be considered disabled and may be entitled to SSDI benefits.
Get Help Obtaining the SSDI Benefits You Deserve
Unfortunately, many valid claims for SSDI benefits are denied even if the applicants meet the requirements to be considered disabled.
If you have questions about your rights to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or need to appeal a denial of your application, our experienced Social Security attorneys are ready to help you navigate this confusing system. To learn more about your rights to benefits and how we can assist you, fill out the brief form on this page to schedule a free consultation.