Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), you will need to show the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have a severe disability that is expected to last a year or more. The Administration will not accept cases of temporary or partial disability.

Types of Disabilities

The first step in applying for SSD benefits is to make sure you have a verifiable disability that limits your ability to earn a living. The SSA’s list of impairments includes conditions that fall into three primary categories:

If you have a disability that is not represented on the official list of impairments, your SSD attorney can work to get the SSA to recognize your condition and the limitations it imposes. The impairment must be severe enough to prevent you from performing income-generating work and must be expected to last a minimum of 12 months.

Determining Disability

The SSA uses a five-step process to evaluate disability claims for SSD and SSI. Factors that are considered during this process include the applicant’s current medical status, current limitations, and Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). The Administration defines “disability” in adults as: “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” The understanding of disability in children is relatively the same, applying to those who are 18 and under, or “adult children” who are over 18.

Verifiable Disabilities

In order to qualify, your condition must meet the SSA’s definition of a “medically determinable impairment.” Basically, this means that your serious physical or mental impairment must be documented and signed off on by medical professionals, with applicable diagnostic tests to prove the impairment exists.

Find out if your disability qualifies you for coverage under the SSD or SSI programs. Contact an SSD lawyer near you for a personalized evaluation.