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What is the definition of disability for SSDI?

Navigating the complexities of Social Security benefits can be a daunting task. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a specific and stringent definition of disability that determines eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Understanding the SSA’s criteria is crucial for anyone considering applying for disability benefits. The definition underscores the severity of the impairment required and its impact on an individual’s ability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). 

Substantial gainful activity and its implications

One of the foundational aspects of the definition of disability is the concept of substantial gainful activity. Essentially, if an individual can engage in SGA, which the SSA quantifies through specific earning thresholds, they are generally not considered disabled. 

The role of medical evidence

To qualify as disabled under the SSA’s definition, applicants must provide comprehensive medical evidence of their impairment. This evidence must come from recognized medical sources and detail the nature of the impairment, its severity, and its long-term impact on the individual’s ability to perform essential work functions. 

Evaluating the severity of impairments

The evaluation process for determining disability is methodical and thorough. The SSA examines whether the impairment is severe enough to significantly restrict the individual’s ability to perform basic work activities. This involves a detailed assessment of the impairment’s nature and how it affects the individual’s functional capabilities. 

Filing for disability is often a big step toward becoming financially stable after a condition or injury leads to disability. Because this is such a complex undertaking, having someone to help with it is often a good idea. This can become even more important if a person receives a denial they need to appeal.

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