Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

What is the SSA's definition of disabled?

When the average person thinks about the term disabled, a few things come to mind. Often people think of physical disabilities, like an inability to walk. However, a disability can come in other forms beyond physical. Mental and emotional disabilities often plague our family members, neighbors and friends.

So what is the Social Security Administration's definition of disabled? According to the SSA< in the context of Social Security, the definition of disabled is a long-term disability that renders you unable to work in any capacity. You must not be able to engage in any "substantial gainful activity" (also known as SGA) because of a physical or mental medical condition. Beyond that, several criteria much be met to be considered disabled by the SSA.

According to SSA guidelines about disability and SSI Supplemental Security Income, the injured cannot perform the work that they performed prior to the severe medical condition. Also, the injured cannot do other types of work because of said medical condition. Beyond that, a person's disability must have lasted for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or is severe enough to have been diagnosed as a death sentence. The SSA may require other proof or documentation beyond a person's ability to answer these questions with certainty about their disability.

Being disabled isn't anything that a person wants out of their quality of life. Ask any disabled person and I'm sure they would tell you they would prefer not to be disabled. However, this means that the disabled will need help along the way as they are at a disadvantage. This is especially true when a person needs to earn a living wage.

Source:, "SSDI & SSI: Definition of Disabled?," Accessed Nov 27, 2017

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