Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Understanding Social Security’s Definition of Disability

The word disability can mean a number of different things. For example, a person could have a disability placard for their car but not be disabled according to Social Security. The key to obtaining disability benefits through Social Security depends on whether or not you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability.

The Social Security Act defines disability as:

Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

That’s a complicated definition! Let’s break it down piece by piece:

Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity

Substantial gainful activity (SGA) is determined by a dollar amount, which is $1,000 in 2011. If you are able to earn more than this amount, then you are not considered disabled under Social Security’s standards.

By reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment

The key phrase here is “medically determinable”. Your disability must be supported by medical records. If you have not actually been diagnosed with a condition by a licensed medical professional, then you cannot allege that you are disabled due to that condition.

Specifically, an impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings.

Which can be expected to result in death or which lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months

Social Security awards benefits only in the case of a total disability. There are no benefits for partial or short-term disabilities. You must be disabled for at least a year before you can become eligible for benefits. The only exception is if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

If Social Security’s definition of disability seems to apply in your case, you may be entitled to benefits. Many people may find it difficult to know whether or not their impairment is medically determinable. You can benefit from the experience of an attorney who understands the Social Security process in further detail and knows exactly what type of medical evidence is required to establish your disability. Hiring an attorney to help you with your claim is the best way to ensure that all of Social Security’s requests are complied with and no delays are placed on your case.For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

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