How does the SSA Define Disabled?

How does the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) define “disabled”? This is one factor about which disability benefits applicants often have incorrect information. It is, however, the most important one, as the SSA uses the same disability definition to determine eligibility for a number of its programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. In this post, we cover the basic disability requirements in order to be able to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits.

What Type of Work Can the Applicant Perform?

In order to be able to apply for benefits, you must not be able to perform the work that you did in the past. Additionally, your condition or injury must be so severe that you cannot adjust to other work. The SSA often brings in vocational experts at a later stage in the benefits application process to assess your situation.

For example, if you were injured in a construction job, you may no longer able to lift heavy materials, but you may be able to sit at a desk and perform computerized tasks without pain. In this instance, you would likely not be able to receive disability benefits, since your disability is not severe enough.

Has the Disability Lasted Longer Than One Year, or is It Expected to Do So?

Those hoping to receive disability benefits should take note of how this question is phrased. You do not have to be disabled for longer than one year in order to apply for disability benefits. Medical experts just need to expect your disability to last longer than a year. In the case of many severe injuries, experts can be reasonably certain that your disability will last longer than a year from the moment that your injury occurs.

Applicants may apply for disability benefits, thus, as soon as they suffer an injury or as soon as doctors diagnose them with a medical condition. Given the long waits that many applicants have for benefits, it is always wise to apply as early as possible.

Are you a disability beneficiary? What misconceptions did you have before you became familiar with the process?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys

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