Harlan Still & Koch

How disability is defined in the benefits process

If you want to apply for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration (SSA), you will have two possible routes to do so. You will need to apply to either Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Social Security Disability Income (SSI). While the criteria differ for these two types of benefits when it comes to income and work history, the way disability is evaluated is the same.

No matter which disability benefits scheme you are applying to under the SSA, you will need to go through the same process of proving that you are suffering from a disability. The following is an overview of how disability is defined and evaluated under the SSA.

The legal definition of disability

The SSA recognizes the legal definition of disability for the purpose of gaining benefits. It is defined as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of certain physical or mental impairments that can be defined. A person must be suffering from such a condition that is expected to continue for at least 12 months or result in death.

What is substantial gainful activity?

Substantial gainful activity is essentially a measure of a person's ability to participate in any activity that would allow them to earn a significant amount of income. A person's capacity for substantial gainful activity will be evaluated by the SSA. It may be determined that although a person cannot participate in physical tasks due to their disability, they can contribute to desk-based work when reasonable adjustments are made.

Are all illnesses and conditions accepted as a form of disability?

The SSA has what is known as "The Blue Book." This contains a comprehensive list of disabling conditions that could lead you to qualify as disabled. Even if your exact condition is not listed in this book, you may still qualify if you have several conditions that prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.

If you are struggling to earn a substantial income in Missouri as a result of your physical or mental health conditions, you should consider starting the process of filing for social security benefits. Your doctor may be able to help you with this process.

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Harlan Still & Koch

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