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Criteria the SSA Uses to Determine If You Are Disabled


The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to individuals who are disabled and cannot work. The benefit programs (SSI and SSDI) provide a monthly stipend to help cover living expenses and in some cases medical coverage to assist with disabilities. While many individuals understand that these benefits exist to help provide a safety net in the event they are disabled and unable to work, what they may not know is how the SSA determines how an individual is disabled.

Medically Defined Impairment

In order to obtain Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, you need medical evidence that illustrates your physical or mental impairment. This evidence must not only illustrate how your disability affects your mental or physical health, but also how this disability impairs your ability to work. This medical evidence must also illustrate that you are actively receiving treatment for your disability.

Substantial Gainful Activity

The SSA defines Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) as earning a specific substantial amount. This amount can vary, but it is typically around $1,040 per month. When you apply for SSD benefits, you cannot be actively working above this SGA level, as the SSA will determine you fit for substantial work.

Residual Functional Capacity Assessment

For individuals with a physical impairment, the SSA will consider if the applicant can do light to medium work or work with restrictions. Individuals faced with a psychological, psychiatric or cognitive impairments, the SSA reviews if the individual can understand and comprehend directions, work with others and ability to maintain attention. Upon reviewing the residual functional capacity of an individual, the SSA will determine what kind of work, if any, an individual can do with his disability.

Medical-Vocational Relationship

Upon completing a RFC assessment, the SSA will review if an individual is able to go back to his past job full time. If the answer is no, then the SSA will use a medical-vocational grid to determine if the individual is able to do any other type of work in his field or comparable to his education level.

Obtaining Social Security disability benefits can help individuals who are unable to work due to their disabilities. While the benefits can be a massive help, the application process is difficult to navigate and proving your disability may be harder than you’d imagine. If you would like help obtaining Social Security disability benefits, call us today for a free consultation.

Category: Social Security

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