If you suffer from an impairment that prevents you from working, there is available support you can apply for, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, even if you have a disability, it does not automatically mean you qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates the severity of the disability before considering the award for benefits.
Severe and non-severe disabilities
The disability must be severe enough to limit one’s ability to perform basic work tasks physically or mentally on a sustained basis. This means that with their impairment, the individual will not be able to work a full shift, five days a week, as an employer would expect. If the impairment only has a minimal effect on doing basic work activities, then it is non-severe.
Moreover, the impairment must be one that doctors expect to last for at least a year or to result in the applicant’s death. The SSA does not consider injuries or illnesses that can heal in less than a year as those preventing substantial gainful work.
Ways to prove the severity
Medical and non-medical evidence can demonstrate severe impairment. This evidence could be:
- Medical records
- Statements from doctors who did the various treatments
- Medical examinations scheduled by the SSA
- Academic and special education records
- Statements from non-medical sources including, but not limited to, family members, friends, employers and public and private social welfare agency personnel
The SSA considers all evidence the applicant submits to assess whether the impairment affects their ability to function in a work setting and to what extent.
Being aware of ways to prove the severity of your disability can help you prepare the appropriate evidence so you can have the best chance of receiving a favorable decision from the SSA.