Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Claims

How does the social security administration decide if I am entitled to benefits?

The social security administration uses a five step sequential process.If you are doing substantial gainful activity,  you are not disabled.  Second, they consider the medical severity of your impairment(s). If you do not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment or a combination of impairments that is severe, which has lasted or expected to last more than a year, or result in death,  you are not disabled.  Third, social security will consider the severity of your impairment(s). If you have an impairment(s) that meets or equals listed impairments social security will find that you are disabled.  Fourth, social security will consider your residual functional capacity and your past relevant work. If you can still do your past relevant work you are not disabled. If you cannot do your past work, social security will consider your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to other work. If you can make an adjustment to other work, social security will find that you are not disabled. If you cannot make an adjustment to other work, social security will find that you are disabled.

What is Substantial Gainful Activity?

This means work that involves doing significant and productive physical or mental duties for pay or profit.

Can I have some earnings or wages that do  not qualify as substantial gainful activity?

Yes, the amount depends on whether you are blind or not blind.   Beginning in 2001 if your earnings averaged less than $700.00 per month and you are not blind you have not engaged in substantial gainful activity.  In each year after 2001 the amount has been adjusted slightly higher in each year.  The exact amounts for each year after 2001 can be found at:

What is an impairment or combination of impairments that is not severe?

An impairment or combination of impairments is not severe if it does not significantly limit your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. Examples of  basic work activities,  include, physical functions such as walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying, or handling; capacities for seeing, hearing, and speaking; understanding, carrying out, and remembering simple instructions; use of judgment; responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations; and dealing with changes in a routine work setting.

What is a “listed impairment”?

Certain conditions are so severe that the Social Security Administration will automatically find that you are entitled to benefits unless your earnings show that you are engaged in substantial gainful activity. The listed impairments are found at:

Can I still qualify for social security if I don’t have a listed impairment?

Yes.  You must show that you have an  impairment that is severe or combination of impairments that are severe which prevents you from returning to your past relevant employment and prevents you from performing any other jobs that exist in the national economy in significant numbers.

What do I need to submit to social security to prove I am disabled?

You must submit evidence from acceptable medical sources to establish that you have a medically determinable impairment.  Generally speaking doctors, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, optometrists and podiatrists are acceptable medical sources.

Can I qualify for social security without evidence from acceptable medical sources?

No.   Complaints of pain and limitations which are not supported by medical evidence will not qualify you for social security benefits.

What is the difference between social security disability benefits and supplemental security benefits?

Social security disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) are payable to claimants the meet the disability requirements of the social security act who also have worked and paid enough social security premiums.  Generally speaking you must have worked and paid social security premiums for 20 out of the 40 yearly quarters preceding the date on which you became disabled.

I didn’t work long enough to qualify for disability insurance benefits can I qualify for any other type of social security?

Yes.  If you are disabled and have limited assets you can still qualify to Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI).  SSI is intended to assure a minimum level of income for people who are disabled, and their dependents.  An individual with no eligible spouse must have less than $2,000.00 in non-excluded assets.  An individual who is living with an ineligible spouse must have less that $3,000.00 of non-excluded assets.    See: