Meeting Social Security’s Definition of “Disabled”

Just because you can’t work, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically start getting Social Security Disability benefits checks. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a large government agency that uses a complicated set or rules to determine if you deserve benefits. You’ll only get benefits if you meet the SSA’s strict definition of “disabled.”

Let the Social Security Disability attorneys at Pilzer Klein help you determine if you do. Contact our office to discuss your disability case.

Do I Qualify for Social Security?

There are two types of Social Security benefits: SSDI and SSI.


The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to you if you meet three criteria:

1You meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled,”

2As of the date you became disabled, you must have paid Social Security taxes for at least five of the last 10 years, and

3You have earned enough work credits by paying Social Security taxes.


Supplement Security Income (SSI) pays benefits to you if you meet certain criteria:

1You meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled,” and

2You meet the financial qualifications (you don’t have too much income or too many assets).

How Do I Meet the Definition of “Disabled”?

Under the Social Security Administration’s rules, you’re only defined as “disabled” if a physical or mental condition is expected to keep you from working for one full year (or result in death). Your disability can be mental, physical, or a combination of the two.

If you can’t work, it’s important you keep regular medical appointments and get enough medical evidence to help prove your case to Social Security.

In most cases, Social Security considers you disabled if:

1You can no longer do work you’ve done before;

2You’re unable to adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and

3Your disability has lasted or will last 12 months (or result in death).