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How does the SSA decide if applicants have qualifying disabilities?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2024 | Uncategorized |

A disability can be a devastating interruption to any career. Thankfully, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a lifeline for those who are facing a disability that has robbed them of their livelihood.

How can an individual know whether they have a qualifying disability? SSA has eligibility criteria to help individuals determine if their condition falls under the definition of a qualifying disability. By answering a sequence of questions, an applicant can work toward concluding whether their condition qualifies them for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

First and foremost, the applicant must have a disability that hinders them from performing work activities that can earn them a livelihood. If an applicant has a disability but they can engage in substantial gainful activity, they’ll likely not qualify for SSD benefits. The SSA has set an earning threshold for blind and non-blind individuals. Anyone who earns more than the set threshold despite their disability is cut off from receiving SSD benefits.

Severe impairment

Upon fulfilling the first requirement, the SSA wants to know if the applicant has a severe impairment. This can be a mental or physical condition that significantly compromises an applicant’s ability to work. The SSA will use an applicant’s medical records to evaluate and determine if they should receive SSD benefits.

Listed impairments

The SSA has a comprehensive list of conditions they believe qualify for benefits. Applicants who have medical records proving that they’ve been diagnosed with one of these impairments can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) and past relevant work

Suppose an applicant’s condition does not qualify as a disability so far; the SSA will evaluate how their impairments have limited their sensory, mental and physical capabilities. The applicant will also undergo assessments to determine how much of their past work they cannot perform currently because of their disability.

Any other work

Lastly, the SSA will evaluate an applicant’s ability to perform any other work aside from their past work. The SSA will conduct this evaluation based on an applicant’s work experience, level of education and age.

The SSA has rigorous assessment criteria to determine whether an applicant qualifies for SSD benefits. Applicants can benefit from legal guidance when compiling their applications to help ensure they include all pertinent information. This way, they can give the SSA all the relevant details that reflect the nature of their disability.