Social Security Administration and Disability
In order to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must show that you are “disabled.” Proving disability can be complicated. A Georgia Social Security disability attorney can help you understand the requirements for receiving benefits.
What Does It Mean To Be “Disabled”?
You are “disabled” according to SSA standards if you have a severe medical condition or combination of conditions that affect your ability to substantially work for at least one year. In order to be considered “disabled” under this definition, you must:
- Have a physical or mental impairment that is “severe”;
- Be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of that impairment; and,
- Have an impairment that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
All of those requirements must be met in order to be considered “disabled” and receive disability benefits.
What Is A “Severe” Condition?
SSA requires that you have a severe physical or mental impairment in order to qualify for disability benefits. A severe impairment is one that results in total disability, interferes with basic work-related activities, and negatively affects your activities of daily living.
The SSA maintains a listing of physical and mental impairments that may be severe. If your condition meets the requirements on that list, you will automatically qualify for benefits. If you have a condition that is not listed, but is as severe as a listed impairment, you may still qualify for benefits.
Medical evidence is required to show that your conditions are so severe that they interfere with work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, pulling, use of judgment, ability to understand, and other typical tasks at a job. You must also present evidence that your activities of daily living are negatively affected. That evidence may be medical or statements from doctors, friends, or family members.
What Is Substantial Gainful Activity?
In order to be considered disabled, you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. You must show that you are unable to work jobs you have done in the past, and that you do not have transferable skills that would allow you to obtain other work. Your inability to work must be the result of your impairment. Thus, if you simply choose not to work, you will not qualify for benefits.
Substantial gainful work is that which is carried out on a sustained basis and is of a nature that would generally result in pay, whether or not you are actually paid. If you are unable to work significant hours, or unable to complete your duties with reasonable adjustments, you may be considered to be disabled.
In determining whether you are able to currently work, the SSA will look at your current and previous work experiences. An evaluator will also consider all of your medical conditions, age, education, and transferable skills. If you are able to complete any kind of work – even sedentary – you may not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
How Long Must Your Condition Last?
Your impairment must be expected to last at least one year or to result in death. Chronic and terminal conditions that result in complete disability may qualify you for benefits. However, a condition that results in short-term or partial disability is not likely to result in “disability” according to the SSA.
You must provide the SSA with verifiable medical evidence regarding the prognosis of your condition. Your doctor can provide you with information about your onset date and expected courses of treatment. Most doctors are familiar with SSA paperwork; however, if your doctor is reluctant to estimate the length or severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice elsewhere. It is imperative that you have support from your treating physician.
When Is A Child “Disabled”?
The requirements for benefits for children who are disabled are somewhat different. A child does not have to prove that he or she cannot work. Instead, children must show that their conditions:
- Result in marked and severe functional limitations; and
- Are expected to last at least one year or to result in death.
The SSA also maintains a childhood listing of impairments that may result in marked and severe functional limitations. A doctor can provide evidence that a child meets the severity requirements to receive disability benefits.
What You Can Do To Prove Disability
It can be difficult to prove that you are disabled. You must meet all of the requirements established by the SSA. Some things you can do in order to get the best possible outcome include:
- Seek medical treatment as soon as your symptoms become severe
- Ask your doctor for a statement regarding the severity and prognosis of your condition(s)
- Keep a journal of your symptoms and how your disability affects your life
- Obtain a statement from your current or former managers, supervisors, and co-workers regarding your ability to work
- Make a list of all of your current and former employers, along with job descriptions
- List your education and any training you have completed
- Obtain statements from teachers, friends, and family members regarding your abilities
By working with a Georgia Social Security disability attorney with Wilkinson & Magruder, LLP, you increase your chances of gathering all the necessary documents and other evidence to prove that you are disabled. Contact us at 706-550-6749 for assistance.