What is Social Security’s definition of disability?

To qualify for any type of benefit from the Social Security Administration, you must meet the definition of disability set by the SSA. This can vary wildly from other agencies.

It is quite strict and exact, which can make it difficult for people to qualify. You need to ensure that you meet all the elements of the disability definition, or the SSA will deny your application, even under widow’s or widower’s benefits. The SSA explains there are multiple points to determining if your health condition qualifies you for benefits.

Severity

Your medical condition must be severe enough that it limits your ability to do any type of work. In addition, to be severe, it must limit your actions for at least 12 months. If you do not have a condition that prevents you from working and will continue to do so for at least a year, then you do not qualify. If you do have a disability that keeps you from working for at least a year, then the SSA will move to the next qualifier.

List

The next step is to see if your medical condition is on the list the SSA has of disabilities. If your condition is on the list, then you will automatically qualify for benefits. Otherwise, your application will move on to the next step of verification.

Work

The SSA will consider if your disability will stop you from doing the work you did at the time your condition occurred. If you could still do the work, then you will not qualify for benefits. Otherwise, the SSA will consider if there is any work you could do. At this point, if there is work, you will get a denial. If you cannot do any work, then the SSA will approve your benefits as long as you meet all the other requirements.