How Does the Social Security Administration Determine if I am Disabled?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability based on three main criteria: (i) having a medical condition (physical, mental, and/or psychological) that prevents you from performing any of your previous jobs, (ii) being unable to adjust to other work due to your medical condition, and (iii) the disability lasting or expected to last for at least twelve (12) months or resulting in death.

To evaluate disability, the SSA follows a five (5) step process:

  1. Are you currently working? If you earn more than $1040 per month (as of 2013), you will not be considered disabled.
  2. Does your medical condition prevent you from performing your previous work?
  3. Can you perform other work considering your age, education, skills, and medical condition? Any job in the USA is considered, regardless of location.
  4. Is your medical condition severe enough to significantly affect your ability to engage in various activities, such as walking, sitting, standing, bending, concentration, etc.?
  5. Does your injury or illness match any impairments listed in the Social Security Administration’s “List of Impairments”? This list includes medical conditions that automatically meet the criteria for disability and provides guidelines for other injuries and illnesses.

Your medical records play a crucial role in determining limitations on your ability to work, so it’s essential to communicate any difficulties and specific restrictions to your doctor. These may include limitations on sitting, standing, walking, bending, or concentration for specific periods.

For Social Security Disability eligibility, partial disabilities or short-term disabilities are not recognized by the SSA. The medical condition must have a long-term impact of at least twelve (12) months to be considered for benefits.