If you are not working, the Social Security Administration will send your application to the Disability Determination Services office that will make the decision about your medical condition.
Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, the Social Security Administration will most likely find that you are not disabled.
For each of the major body systems, the Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, Social Security will have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list.
If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then Social Security must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously.
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the Social Security Administration will see if you are able to adjust to other work.
The Social Security Administration will consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have.
The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
“Disability” under Social Security is based on your inability to work. Social Security considers you disabled under Social Security rules if 1.You cannot do work that you did before. 2. Social Security decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and 3. Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I return to work while getting Social Security disability benefits?
Yes, you can return to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has special rules to help you get back to work without jeopardizing your initial benefits. You may be able to have a trial work period for nine months to test whether you can work.
If you get disability benefits and your condition improves or you return to work, report these changes by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contacting your local Social Security office.
What are the eligibility requirements to get Social Security disability benefits?
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually 10 years). Then, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
In general, the Social Security Administration pays monthly benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more, or who have a condition expected to end in death. The disability must be so severe the worker cannot work, considering age, education, and experience.
How long does it take to get a decision after I apply for disability benefits?
The time it takes to get a decision on your disability application can vary depending on:
- The nature of your disability
- How quickly we can get your medical evidence from your doctor or other medical sources
- Whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination
- Whether the Social Security Administration reviews your application for quality purposes
How do Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments differ?
The two programs are financed differently.
Employment taxes primarily finance Social Security retirement, survivors and disability insurance benefits.
Generally, the Social Security Administration pays Social Security benefits to eligible workers and their families, based on the worker’s earnings.
General taxes fund the SSI program, which serves the needy. SSI eligibility depends largely on limited income and resources.