How does the Social Security Administration define “disability”?

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 1-800-899-5442 to schedule a free consultation with the Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge & Associates.

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  1. our son , 33, has never worked steady and hasn’t worked at all for years. he lives with his birth father whom was declared to be mentally diseased ( when in jail and being belligerent )when he was put in jail for not having a drivers license and using his car for a taxi without permit and not having tag and resisting arrest . they live on the fathers ss selling stuff they find left on the side of the road. our son will not even go to get free medical help because of his condition and gets mad and cuts off any communication for months when any suggestion him getting help or getting out of their apartment to get a job or to volunteer. is there any way to get him on ss if he won’t participate?

    1. I am responding to your recent inquiry related to your Social Security Disability questions. Our Firm has had a lot of success with cases such as yours. I can speak with you now or you can call us anytime at 1.800.676.HURT (4878).

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