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What “Disabled” Means to the Social Security Administration.

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) there are only 2 basic requirements:

  1. You must have worked in jobs that paid into the Social Security system long enough and recently enough (10 out of the past 15 years) to qualify for SSDI benefits, and,
  2. You must be disabled within the meaning of the Security Administration’s (“SSA”) definition of “disabled.”

Sounds simple, right?


The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has lots of rules and regulations that must be strictly followed in order to qualify for disability benefits.

In addition, they have a very strict definition of “disabled.”

What Does Social Security Administration Mean by Disabled?

There is no one single physical or psychological condition that constitutes a “disabled” person for purposes of disability benefits.

Instead, the SSA defines “disability” for purposes of disability benefits this way:

“[it is the] inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Although there are certain recognized mental and physical conditions and diseases that qualify for disability benefits (see the SSA’s Blue Book), generally speaking, it is not just the medical diagnosis or condition that decides what disability qualifies for SSDI.

What matters most is whether or not the physical or mental condition seriously interferes with a person’s ability to work full-time or long enough to engage in “substantial gainful activity (“SGA”).

SGA is a dollar amount that the SSA sets every year. They use SGA to determine if someone qualifies for disability benefits or not. For 2018, the SGA is $1,180 per month for a single, non-blind individual.

If your condition prevents you from doing your old job, but would still allow you to do “other work,” you will not qualify for disability benefits. The way the SSA sees it, if you are able to work long enough to engage in SGA, you will not qualify for disability benefits.

The SSA’s definition of “disabled” involves a lot more than just a medical diagnosis. Social security law is a complex and complicated area of law. That is why we believe that anyone seeking benefits should be represented by competent social security disability counsel.

Fighting to Get Our Clients the Benefits They Deserve.

If you are applying for disability benefits or have been denied benefits, contact us ToDay. We offer FREE consultations and we don’t get paid unless you win your case. We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or contact us here.


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