Can I get disability and how is disability determined?

Prior to applying for disability, two big questions you are likely asking yourself include:

  • Can I get disability?
  • How is disability determined?

In this post, we’ll delve into those questions.

Can I get disability?

Social security only pays for total disability, not partial or short-term disability. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers you disabled only if:

  1. You can’t do the work you did before.
  2. The SSA decides you cannot do other work because of your medical condition(s).
  3. Your disability has lasted or will last for at least one year or will result in death.

You also must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. 

How is disability determined?

To determine whether you qualify for disability or not, the SSA follows a five-step SSI process of approval.

Step One: Are you working?

If you make more than $1,260 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.

Step Two: Is your condition severe?

Your condition must have a significant impact on your ability to do basic work, like standing, sitting, walking, lifting, and either have done so or will do so for at least one year. 

Step Three: Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

The SSA has a list of disabling conditions. If your condition isn’t listed, it will need to be determined if your condition is as severe as another condition on the list.  If it is, you will be found as disabled. If not, proceed to step four.

Step Four: Can you do the work you did previously?

In step four, the SSA will determine whether you can do the work you did previously. If your condition doesn’t prevent you from doing any of your past work, you will be found to NOT have a disability. If your condition prevents you from doing any of your past work, proceed to step five. 

Step Five: Can you do any other type of work?

If you cannot do any of your past work, the SSA will work to determine if there is any work you can do despite your impairment(s). They will consider your condition(s), age, education, past work history, and skills. 

If you can do other work, it will be determined that you don’t have a qualifying disability and your claim will be denied. 

That isn’t necessarily the end of your claim, as you can appeal. To do so, we highly recommend working with a disability attorney, if you are not already doing so, as your chances of getting disability with a lawyer are likely better than without. 

If it is found you cannot do other work, it will be determined that you are disabled and your claim will be approved. 

The SSA delves much deeper into steps four and five of the SSI process of approval on their website: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/step4and5.htm 

Fort Worth and Dallas Disability Attorney

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