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How Severe Must My Disability Be to Qualify for SSDI Benefits?

February 28, 2018 Blog

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits require that the claimant meet rather strict requirements in order to qualify.  As a general rule, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is unwilling to award benefits in situations where the claimant can manage alternative (or even pre-existing) work.  This can confuse potential claimants who have serious disabilities, but who are not entirely sure whether the disability is severe enough to qualify under the SSA’s very particular rules.

Let’s take a look.

Qualifying for SSDI — the Basics

In order to qualify for SSDI, your condition must be debilitating enough for the SSA to determine that you are “disabled.”  You will be deemed “disabled” if the SSA finds, based on the total weight of the evidence in your application, that:

  • You are incapable of working in your pre-existing job;
  • You are incapable of adjusting to an alternative position (or career) due to the severity of your condition; and
  • Your disabling condition will last for at least one year, or will lead inevitably to your death.

Alternatively, the SSA keeps a list of medical conditions that — assuming that your medical records corroborate such a finding — will automatically qualify you as a “disabled” person in accordance with the SSA’s definition.

It’s important to note that the condition must be severe enough to interfere with the basic duties required of you in a particular job.  If the condition at-issue merely prevents you from performing supplementary tasks, then it may not necessarily be severe enough for the SSA to designate it as a “disability.”

For example, suppose that you are a junior salesman.  One of your informal job duties is to transport marketing materials from the office to the retail store site.  After you are injured in a car accident, however, you are unable to carry heavy objects.  As such, you can no longer fulfill this informal duty.  The SSA is unlikely to grant you SSDI benefits as a basic work-related activity has not been affected.  If you were rendered unable to speak to customers, by contrast, then you would likely qualify.

The disability determination also turns on income, to some extent.  If you are capable of working part-time, and you earn more than $1180 per month (on average), then the SSA will find that you are not severely disabled enough to qualify for SSDI.  Your attorney can give you further guidance on how to prepare for your application so that you do not engage in work-related activities (and other activities) that could jeopardize your eligibility for SSDI.

If you have been injured, but you’re not entirely certain whether your injury qualifies as a severe enough disability to entitle you to SSDI benefits, it’s important that you get in touch with a specialized disability benefits attorney as soon as is practicable.  Your attorney will assist you with gathering the necessary information and filing a winning application.  In the event that benefits are denied, your attorney can help you challenge the decision of the Social Security Administration through the appeals process (and if necessary, through litigation).

Call the Office of Attorney Mike Murburg today at (813) 264-5363 to get connected to an experienced Tampa SSDI lawyer.  During your free initial consultation, we will evaluate your claims and help you push forth an SSDI application that is more likely to be accepted by the Social Security Administration.