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Social Security Disability Requirements

As most people may know, Social Security does not only pay benefits when someone retires — the program also pays benefits for disabled individuals who can no longer work. There are two programs for which a person may be eligible: Title II, or Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Income Security. Social Security Disability Requirements are essentially the same for each program.

The Title II program is intended for those with recent work history. An employed person pays into SSA through payroll taxes and accumulates work credits for each quarter of a year he or she is employed. If the employee becomes disabled, he or she can seek benefits under this program.

Title XVI is the SSI portion of Social Security. Those who do not have a sufficient work background to qualify under the Title II portion of SSA may still be entitled to SSI benefits. However, they must meet certain financial requirements. The assets they may own are usually very limited.

Disability and Social Security Disability Requirements

SSA defines being disabled as being “unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity.” This inability to work must be due to medical disability, whether physical or psychiatric in nature. The disability must have existed or be expected to exist for at least 12 straight months. The test is the same for SSDI or SSI.

Substantial Gainful Activity

First, SSA will look to whether an individual is engaging in substantial gainful activity. If an applicant is working full time, SSA will not consider the person disabled. Some occasional work is permissible, provided it is the disability itself that prevents full time work.

Medically Determinable Disability

SSA contains a large listing of common medical impairments that provide thresholds for severity and a listing of symptoms, test results and other pertinent information. Social Security Disability Requirements take into account the applicant’s medical records and compare them to the medical listings. If you are not engaged in substantial gainful activity and meet a listing for a medical disability, you will generally qualify for benefits.

If you do not meet a listing, you may still qualify as disabled. Social Security must look at the disability or number of disabilities, the symptoms it presents and the activities it prevents you from performing. An applicant may have both physical and mental disabilities. For instance, if you suffer from a permanent back injury and some degree of depression, SSDI Requirements will look at all of the disabilities to determine whether, in total, they will prevent you from working.

The Grid

Not only will SSA look to the medical portion of a disability, but they will consider the person’s work history or past relevant work and the age of the applicant. A chart that is also known as “the grid” has been created by SSA to determine whether, based on the applicant’s age, disability and work history, they can perform future work. An older individual with a non-skilled employment history may be more likely to obtain disability benefits using the grid.

Past Relevant Work and Social Security Disability Requirements

SSA will consider whether the person’s disability prevents him or her from performing their past relevant work, which may be work performed in the recent past or work performed extensively at any time during his or her employment career. It will also consider whether the disability prevents the individual from performing all duties of his or her past relevant work.

Other Substantial Gainful Activity

If you are not capable of performing past relevant work, SSA may consider whether the you can perform other employment in jobs existing in substantial numbers nationally. Social Security Disability Requirements will consider jobs less physically strenuous or mentally taxing. For example, a former construction worker may no longer perform his or her past work due to a disability. However, the person may be able to perform work as a computer security monitor watchperson, where the physical requirements are considerably less. Usually, Social Security will retain an expert in the field of employment placement to provide an opinion as to whether any jobs exist that the applicant may perform in spite of his or her disability.

Importance of Medical Records

Because Social Security Disability Requirements allow you to provide your own medical records, it is important to compile and maintain orderly records. In some cases, you may be required to obtain an opinion from your medical provider. An opinion detailing the extent of the disability, all tests performed confirming the disability and an extensive consideration of physical and mental limitations is helpful. A well-written medical opinion from a physician is often the key to an award of disability benefits.