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Understanding eligibility for Social Security Disability

Understanding how to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits can be complicated. It is important to know how to provide evidence of eligibility, and it can also be helpful to understand how eligibility for benefits is determined. It is also useful to be familiar with the different options that may be available, including SSD benefits, which are based on work history, or Supplemental Security Income, which does not require work history to qualify, but instead considers need.

SSD benefits are based on an inability to work due to a disability. Disability is based on the existence of a physical or mental health condition that prevents the disabled individual from working. The medical condition must be expected to last longer than 12 months or result in death. The Social Security Administration also evaluates the severity of the impairment suffered by the disabled individual. The disabled individual must be unable to perform their usual work or any other type of work as a result of the disability.

The SSA evaluates the disabled individual's ability to perform basic work activities, including the ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, reach, communicate, utilize good judgment and respond to supervision. The disability suffered must be substantiated through medical evidence. To prove the disability, applicants must have a diagnosis that confirms the medical condition for which they are seeking disability. Symptoms, clinical signs and laboratory tests are used to determine the medical condition for the claimed disability. Medical evidence that should be supplied includes a report from the treating doctor and a copy of laboratory tests and medical records.

Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they suffer from an impairment on the SSA's list of impairments or from an equivalent that prevents them from engaging in gainful activity. There are a number of factors that are considered at several levels of the disability application process, so it can be helpful to be thoroughly aware of the different steps in the process of applying for disability benefits and how to qualify.

Source:, "Are You Eligible For Social Security Disability?" Accessed Jan. 2, 2017

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