How do I qualify for disability for a medical condition?

Social Security Disability benefits can be important for many disabled individuals, and their families, with little or no income due to a medical condition and disability. In general, SSD benefits are available to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last longer than a year or result in death. While additional work history requirements also apply, it is important to keep in mind that different Social Security options may be available for disabled individuals in different situations.

Following an application for disability benefits, the application will be reviewed at the state level. When speaking with the applicant’s doctors, when the medical condition began, what the medical condition is, how the medical condition limits the applicant’s activities, what information medical tests have revealed, and what treatment the applicant has received for the medical condition will all be reviewed to determine eligibility for disability benefits.

In addition to questions about the applicant’s medical condition, questions about the applicant’s ability to perform work-related tasks will also be assessed. The applicant’s ability to walk, sit, lift items, carry items and remember instructions will all be reviewed as part of the process. The applicant’s ability to perform these tasks will help determine whether or not the medical condition is considered severe. Based on the severity of the medical condition, the state agency will next seek to determine if the medical condition is on the Listing of Impairments or, if not, if the medical condition is as severe as those on the list.

The state agency will also seek to determine if the applicant can perform the work done prior to the medical condition or if the applicant can perform any other type of work. The applicant’s medical condition, age, education, previous work experience and skills will be used to determine if the applicant can perform any other type of work. All of these factors contribute to a determination of disability.

Because a determination of disability for Social Security purposes can be complex and involve medical condition considerations, as well as other considerations, it is important that applicants have knowledge of, and carefully understand, the process to receive what may be badly-needed disability benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Benefits,” Accessed Oct. 23, 2014


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