Who is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?

You will find yourself asked numerous questions by the Social Security Administration when you file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. The actual Social Security definition of “disabled” is different than it may be for other programs, since Social Security Disability applies only to individuals who are fully disabled to the point that they cannot engage in any type of work.

The term “disabled” under Social Security is based mainly on your inability to work. You will be considered disabled under Social Security Disability rules if you cannot perform the work you used to do, cannot adjust to other types of work due to your condition, and your disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for a year or more.

When the Social Security Administration decides if you are eligible for disability benefits, they use a series of questions:

Question 1. Are you working? If you are working now and make more than the minimum amount allowed to be eligible for disability, you will not be granted disability benefits.

Question 2. Is your condition deemed to be severe? It must interfere with your former basic work activities in order for them to consider your disability claim.

Question 3. Is your condition listed in the SSA list of disabling conditions? There are specific conditions that will be considered severe enough to deem you automatically eligible for disability. If the condition you experience is not on the list, the Social Security Administration will need to use other ways to more closely examine your disability claim.

Question 4. Can you currently do the work you did before? If your disabling condition interferes with your ability to work in the field you previously worked in, your disability claim may be approved. If it doesn't, you will probably be denied disability.

Question 5. Can you do other types of work? If you cannot work in your previous field, the decision makers for Social Security Disability will determine whether or not you can work in another field. They draw on your work experience, education, age and medical condition as factors as well as any skills you have that can be utilized in another job. If you cannot adjust to another job, your disability claim will probably be approved. If you will be able to adjust to other work, the SSA will most likely deny your claim for disability benefits.