Q Do All Disabilities Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Having a disability doesn't automatically mean that a person is eligible for Social Security (SS) disability benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability based on a person's ability to work and doesn’t view having a disability the same as being totally disabled.
To meet the SSA's definition of total disability, a person must be unable to do the type of work he did prior to the disability and be unable to adjust to other types of work due to the severity of his medical condition. The disability in question must also be expected to last for a year or longer, or result in death.
In most cases, SS applications submitted by people who are working full time will not be approved. Even working part time can hurt your chances for receiving SS benefits if the SSA determines you're capable of substantial gainful activity (SGA)—work that involves significant physical or mental activity, or a combination of the two. The SSA uses a dollar amount to determine SGA, so people who work full- or part-time hours but whose gross earnings average less than $1,130 per month may still be eligible for benefits. A higher SGA threshold of $1,820 applies to blind applicants.
If you're disabled, there are two ways to secure SS benefits. The first is by having a disability on the SSA's list of “Blue Book” conditions—these disabilities are considered severe enough to automatically qualify an applicant for benefits. The second is by proving that your condition prevents you from working—even if you don't have one of the qualifying, disabling conditions listed by the SSA.
If You Need Help
Applying for SS benefits can be a complex and lengthy process. Having a knowledgeable disability attorney by your side to help guide you through each step of the journey can be invaluable. An attorney who knows the specific SS process may increase the likelihood of your application being approved and help you if your application is denied. Contact the experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, "Seven Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim."