What Is Social Security’s Definition of Disability?

A Tulsa Disability Attorney Explains How to Qualify for Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees several programs designed to help people with disabilities. In general, these programs pay monthly benefits to help people pay their bills and buy essentials like food and clothing. However, in order to qualify for disability benefits, your condition has to meet the Social Security definition of disability. This definition is more complicated and contains more limitations than most people think. During the SSA’s five-step evaluation process, factors like your income, condition and prognosis are all considered because they all contribute to the legal definition of disability.

At Troutman & Troutman, P.C., disability law is our only focus. We understand what the SSA means by “disability”, and we can tell you whether your condition meets their guidelines. If you need to apply for disability benefits, then a Tulsa disability attorney from our firm can help. We can explain the evaluation process to you and can help you file all the right paperwork. We may even be able to offer suggestions to give you a better chance of approval.

What Is the Definition of Disability for Social Security?

Social Security’s definition of disability is any physical or mental medical condition that keeps you from working for at least one year. Any condition that is likely to be terminal is also considered a disability. This means that you may be able to collect benefits for either a physical injury or disorder, or a mental condition. However, your word alone is not enough to prove disability. A doctor or medical professional must diagnose you with a recognized condition.

Your medical condition must also be severe enough to keep you from working for at least one full year. Otherwise, you are not considered to be legally disabled. There are no benefits for partial or temporary disability. The SSA defines “working” as any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). This means that if you make more than the limits set by the SSA, your work counts as Substantial Gainful Activity. These limits get adjusted every year to account for inflation. The SGA income limits, before taxes, for 2017 are:

  • $1,170 per month for the non-blind
  • $1,950 per month for the blind

If you make more than these amounts, you cannot qualify for disability benefits, regardless of your medical condition. If you make less, you may be able to continue working while still receiving your full benefits.

What Are the Most Common Conditions That Qualify for Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration keeps a list of conditions that meet the requirements for a legal disability. The SSA updates this list frequently, and you can still qualify for benefits even if your disability is not listed. However, some conditions are more common than others. For example, genetic disorders and diseases make up a greater percentage of disability claims than accidents or injuries. The most common medical conditions awarded disability benefits include:

  • Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders – These conditions can include chronic back pain, arthritis and amputation.
  • Nervous System Conditions – The most common nervous system disorders include brain tumors, stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Cardiovascular Disorders – Heart disease is the most common cardiovascular disorder awarded benefits. Others include high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Cancer – Cancer or cancer treatments can be incredibly debilitating. Certain cancers will often qualify you for a compassionate allowance, which will allow you to get benefits much more quickly.
  • Mental Disorders – Mental disorders that could keep you from working include schizophrenia, autism and substance abuse disorders.

Other possible conditions that could qualify you for disability benefits include diabetes, obesity, complications from pregnancy and blood disorders. Even chronic depression and broken bones sometimes meet the SSA’s definition of a disability.

Not Sure If Your Condition Meets Social Security’s Definition of Disability? Call Us Today

Determining whether your medical condition fits for the Social Security definition of disability is only one step towards getting benefits. If you have questions about the application process or any other Social Security matter, a Tulsa disability attorney from our law firm can help. We can help you determine your chances of approval for disability benefits, and can assist you throughout the application process. Contact us online or call our Oklahoma law office to schedule a free consultation today.