The SSA uses very explicit criteria to determine whether an individual is entitled to Social Security disability benefits. While an individual may face injury or pain, the SSA may not consider them disabled because of the very strict eligibility requirements. Here, the Social Security disability benefits attorneys at Disability Associates detail the criteria necessary to be considered eligible for benefits by the SSA.

Working Status

Working does not entirely preclude an individual from eligibility for disability benefits; however, there is an income threshold that must not be exceeded. In 2017, those applying for disability benefits who make over $1,170 a month are unlikely to be considered disabled by the SSA. For those who are legally blind, income under $1,950 (2017) per month is permitted.

If an individual is not working at all, their application will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services office, where an employee will further review their condition.

Severity of Condition

Social Security disability benefits are only available for those who are fully disabled. Benefits are not available for short-term or partial disabilities. According to the SSA, “severe” disability is a condition that interferes with one’s ability to complete basic work-related activities.

If basic work-related activities can still be completed, an individual’s application is likely to be rejected. Basic work-related activities include tasks that are both physical and mental. Some physical tasks would be lifting, carrying, standing, pushing and pulling.

Mental activities include the ability to understand, recall and implement simple instructions, the ability to make basic work-related decisions or judgments, the ability to work cooperatively with coworkers and supervisors and the ability to appropriately handle routine changes in the work environment.

Type of Disability

The SSA maintains a list of “Compassionate Allowances;” disabilities so inherently severe that an applicant who is diagnosed with one can have their application automatically approved for benefits. The SSA’s “Quick Disability Determinations” screening process also helps to detect applicants who have a high probability of being accepted, based on their condition.

An applicant whose disability is neither on the Compassionate Allowances list, nor detected by the Quick Disability Determinations screening process, may still have their application approved—the condition will be manually reviewed to determine if it is of comparable severity to those the SSA automatically approves. If it is, the SSA will find them to be disabled. If not, the SSA will need to further investigate their claim.

Previous Work History

The SSA will review previous work the applicant has performed, and determine whether they will be able to continue performing it. If so, the application will be rejected.

Ability to Perform Other Work

If the applicant is unable to perform their previous job, the SSA will determine whether they will be able to perform other, similar work. Through factors such as medical condition, age, education, past work experience and training, the SSA will make a decision regarding the application—those who have a high probability of successfully transferring to a new position will likely be rejected.

The Attorneys at Disability Associates Knows the Ins and Outs of the SSA’s Determination Process

Unlike general practice firms, our sole purpose is to assist those applying for Social Security disability benefits. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you get the benefits you deserve. We are eager to begin helping you—contact us today for a free review of your case!