If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income the Social Security Administration will grant you Social Security Disability benefits only if they determine you are totally disabled. Unlike other federal disability programs, Social Security Disability benefits are not paid for partial or short-term disabilities. The expectation for short-term or partial disabilities is that you will have additional support from insurance, investments, savings, family or workers' compensation to provide temporary support for you if you are unable to work.
To qualify for either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review all of your medical evidence and determine if you have a mental or physical condition which meets the Social Security Administration's definition of disabled. The Social Security Administration will decide if you are disabled based on your ability to perform "work". They define "work" as substantially gainfully employed which in 2009 is the ability for blind individuals to make $1,640 per month (does not apply for SSI benefits for the blind) and for non-blind individuals to make $980 per month. This amount is updated periodically.
If the Social Security Administration determines you have met their legal definition of disabled, they will grant you either SSDI or SSI benefits to be paid to you on a monthly schedule. If you do not meet their definition of disabled, you can either appeal the Social Security Disability denial or you can file another Social Security Disability claim.
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Am I disabled?
The Social Security Administration uses a five step process to determine if you are disabled and unable to work:
- Are you currently employed- If you are employed making more than the 2009 SGA amount, the Social Security Administration will consider you substantially employed and not disabled. You will automatically be denied Social Security Disability benefits. If you are not working than they proceed to step 2.
- Is your mental or physical condition considered "severe"- The Social Security Administration defines severe as interfering with basic work related activities. The SSA will review your condition and decide if it is equal in severity to other conditions found on their Listing of Impairments. Your condition must also be expected to last at least 12 continuous months or result in death. This is called the minimum durational length. Your condition may be severe, but if the SSA examiner determines after reviewing your medical evidence that your condition will not last this long, you will be denied Social Security Disability benefits.
- Is your condition on the Listing of Impairments?- The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions which they automatically consider disabled. If your condition is on the list, they will find you disabled. If your condition is not on the list, they will determine if it is equal to another condition on the list. Certain conditions will be given either a quick disability determination or a compassionate allowance determination to expedite benefits.
- Can you do the work you were doing before? If they do not find your mental or physical health condition on the listing, and they determine that is not equal in severity they will determine if it is severe enough to keep you from performing your previous job. If it is not, your Social Security Disability application will be denied. If it is too severe to allow you to perform your previous job they will go to the next step.
- Can you perform any other type of work? If you are unable to perform your previous job, could you be trained to perform other work? The SSA will review your age, education, previous work experience, and other skills sets to determine if you could do any job found in the national economy. If the Social Security Administration determines you could perform other work they will deny your Social Security Disability claim. If you can not do any other work, you will be granted disability benefits.
Listing of Impairments
The Social Security Administration Office maintains a medical listing book call the Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments is used to evaluate the condition listed on the Social Security Disability application for both Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. The Listing of Impairments is only one step in the five-step sequential evaluation process outlined above, but if the condition is found in the listing or as severe as a listing, it is usually determined the individual is disabled. If a mental or physical condition is not found in the listing, it does not necessarily mean the person in not disabled, the examiner will just move to the next step in the evaluation process.
The Listing of Impairments is divided into sections for each body part and a list of physical and mental impairments for each system that will prevent an individual from performing substantial gainful activity.
The listing will contain information on the duration of the condition or if the condition is considered permanent. All listing will last at least twelve continuous months or be considered terminal. The Listing of Impairments is divided into two sections: Part A and Part B. Part A is used to evaluate the mental and physical health conditions of anyone over the age of 18. It can be used to evaluate the mental and physical health conditions for children under 18 if the condition is similar in individuals of all ages.
All mental and physical health conditions for children are listed in Part B of the Listing of Impairments. Certain diseases may manifest themselves differently, only occur in children or affect the child's ability to engage in normal childhood activities. The SSA office will first evaluate a child's condition using Part B and move to Part A if necessary.
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