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SSDI- Can I get partial disability if I can work?

Recently, on our disability forum a user ask, “I am blind in one eye from head injury. I can still work on roofs, but find it is hard and dangerous. Can I be compensated for this disability but continue to work this job?” This is a great question. Can you get partial disability if you can work?  What the disability applicant does not understand is the process of the SSA uses to determine whether or not you are disabled and when they will give you disability benefits. There are several issues within this question and we will address each of them.

1.    If you can work you are not disabled according to the SSA.

The first issue that the disability applicant will have to review is whether or not they can still work. The SSA will determine whether you can work your current job, a past job or retrain for new work. So, for example, the fact this worker can work their current job with their blind eye will be the first indication they are not disabled. What if they could no longer work their current job? Then they would also have to prove they could not retrain for ANY other type of work that they qualify to perform given their age, education level, work skills and disability.

2.    The Social Security Administration does not offer partial disability benefits.

Because so many other types of disability programs offer partial disability benefits, it can be very confusing to SSA disability applicants. For instance, if you are injured on the job and you lost an eye there would be partial disability compensation for that loss, even if you ultimately returned to work. VA benefits are similar. If you are injured or lose a limb there is a disability rating assigned for that loss and partial disability compensation is given.

The SSA does not award SSDI or SSI benefits using a disability rating and does not offer partial disability. They simply determine if you are 100% disabled and unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. If yes, than you can win benefits. If no, then you are denied benefits. It’s that simple.

How would I win SSDI or SSI for blindness?

To be considered disabled for blindness you will have to meet very specific requirements. These requirements are outlined in the SSA Listing of Impairments which is a list of conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling. What if your condition is not as severe as the condition listed? You will have to prove that your blindness or your blindness in combination with other conditions lowers your ability to work.

So what’s the bottom line?

If you can work, even if it means retraining for a new job, you will not be disabled. If you are not 100% disabled, you will not be approved. If your condition will not last 12 continuous months, you will not be approved.

The worker in the question above will not be approved for disability. The SSA will deny their case because they will state that he is working too much and making too much money.
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