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How the U.S. Social Security Administration defines “disability”

People who suffer from an injury or disability so severe that it prevents them from working may wonder whether they are eligible for Social Security benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration. Reserved for Americans with the most serious, debilitating conditions, Social Security benefits are monthly payments meant to help people provide for themselves.

Whether you will obtain Social Security benefits on account of your disability, however, depends on certain factors tied to your situation. The primary determining factor in whether you gain access to these benefits is whether you meet the administration’s definition of “disability.”

Work requirements

While meeting the administration’s strict definition of “disability” is essential if you want to start receiving benefits, you must also have enough work credits in your professional history to qualify you in the first place. Additionally, you must have earned those work credits, which you receive based on your annual yearly wages in a Social Security-covered position, within a certain time frame to qualify. The specific number of work credits you need to apply for Social Security benefits changes from year to year, however, and it also depends on exactly when you became disabled.

Defining “disability”

If you have enough work credits under your belt to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you must now find out whether you meet the administration’s definition of “disability.” While the administration maintains a list on its website of conditions that generally qualify, you may still be able to pursue benefits, even if your specific disability does not currently appear on the list.

To do so, however, your disability must be severe enough that your doctors do not expect it to improve within a year, and it also must be one that keeps you from performing the basic functions required for gainful employment. In addition to preventing you from working in your old position, your disability must be severe enough that no reasonable accommodations made on your behalf could get you back into the working world.

If you meet the aforementioned criteria, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

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