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How the U.S. Social Security Administration defines disability

When you are unable to earn an income due to a serious injury or medical condition, you may have reason to apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). Unfortunately, the approval process for these benefits is often arduous. Part of qualifying for benefits involves meeting the U.S. Social Security Administration’s (SSA) specific and narrow definition of the term disability.

The SSA awards SSDI benefits only to those who have complete disabilities. In other words, the administration is not going to approve you if you have a partial disability or one that may get better in time. The SSA may consider you completely disabled if you and your situation meet the following criteria.

Defining disability

For the SSA to deem you disabled, you must be able to show an inability to perform the same work you did before becoming disabled. This alone is not enough to qualify you for benefits, though. In addition, you need to show the SSA that your condition is so severe that you are unable to adjust to alternative forms of work that could potentially keep you employed.

Finally, you have to be able to show that your disability is so severe that you expect it to either end in death or last a year or longer.

Defining severe

The SSA assesses whether your condition is severe by determining whether you have the ability to perform basic functions necessary for employment. If it decides you are unable to lift, stand, walk, sit or remember things, and that you should be unable to do these things for at least a year, it may deem you severely disabled.

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