How Does the Social Security Administration Define Disability?
William Lindahl, MBA, CLPF & Sara Toor, M.A
For an individual to meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability, an individual must not be able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medically-determined physical or mental impairment that would result in death, or has lasted or is to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
Determining if an Individual is Disabled
The Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes a five-step process to determine if an individual is disabled. The five-step process is followed in a set order. If an individual is disabled or not disabled at a step, a representative makes his/her decision and he/she does not move on to the next step. If for some reason a representative cannot find that an individual is disabled or not disabled at a specific step, the representative will continue to the next step.
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability for children is a bit different than the definition they provide for adults. The Social Security Administration considers a child to be A person who is neither married (as determined by Social Security) nor head of a household and is under age 18; or is under age 22 and is a student regularly attending school (as determined by Social Security).
For a child, all the following requirements, must be met for a child to be considered disabled and be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits:
For children applying for SSI, the process requires sequential review of:
Overall, there are various factors and facts the Social Security Administration considers when determining if an individual is disabled or not. If you believe that you, your child, or a loved one may qualify for benefits it would be best to reach out to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office in your area. If you are unsure of the contact information for your local office, visit https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp to obtain the office information.
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William E. Lindahl, MBA, CLPF