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Does the Social Security Administration give partial disability benefits?

One of the most common questions for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claimants attempting to get disability benefits is, “Does the Social Security Administration award partial disability payments?”

Although the answer is no, this question is very logical in light of other governmental benefits such as veteran’s disability benefits. The United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs gives partial disability benefits in increments of 10 percent which reflect the degree of disability of the veteran. According to the V.A., “The percentage ratings represent as far as can practicably be determined the average impairment in earning capacity resulting from such diseases and injuries and their residual conditions.”

Workers compensation, although it varies by state, generally allows a treating doctor to determine the degree of body functioning which is impaired and refers to some type of schedule to determine the percentage loss or partial disability for the worker (giving each worker a corresponding impairment rating). Certain body parts which are non-functioning will ultimately give the worker a higher partial disability rating. For example an injured back rates higher than an injured finger.

How does the Social Security Administration determine disability?

Understanding how the V.A. or workers compensation determines disability does not get you any closer to understanding the Social Security Administration disability process. While claimants may be able to receive both V.A. disability and Social Security Administration disability or workers compensation and SSA disability, getting V.A. or workers compensation does not guarantee that you will also receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Assuming first that you meet the nonmedical criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, you will only be awarded disability benefits if you have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow you to work for at least 12 continuous months.

So what does this mean? The Social Security Administration only awards Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits to claimants who they consider 100% disabled and which do not allow them to perform substantial gainful activity.

Whether claimants have one condition which is 100% disabling or several conditions, which in their entirety do not allow a claimant to work, will not matter. Either you are able to work or you are not. If you are working and performing substantial gainful activity, regardless of your condition, you will automatically be denied.

Can I get more money from the Social Security Administration  if I have additional disabilities?

Claimants also wonder if they can get additional payments if they become “more disabled” at some point in the future. This question derives from a misunderstanding of how the disability is awarded and probably an assumption that Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income functions similar to the processes identified above for workers compensation or V.A. disability where claimants get some type of disability rating which can rise as the disability rises.

As mentioned above, the Social Security Administration will determine you are disabled or not disabled. If you are disabled the conclusion is you are 100% disabled, and they will award you the full benefit Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income payment you are due. Getting “more disabled” in the future does not increase the amount you are eligible to receive under Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
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