What Is Considered A ‘Severe’ Disability?

Submitted by Eric on

Do you have a disability that prevents you from working and earning an income? If so, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

That said, it’s important to understand that the SSA doesn’t classify all disabilities as “severe.” This overview will help you better understand whether yours meet the criteria. 

What Does the SSA Consider To Be a ‘Severe’ Disability?

The SSA defines a severe impairment as “one that affects an individual's ability to perform basic work-related activities for an adult or that causes more than minimal functional limitations for a child with a title XVI disability claim.”

Per the SSA, a disability is a condition that:

  • Prevents an individual from participating in substantial gainful activity (SGA)
  • Prevents an individual from performing previous work
  • Is likely to last for at least one year or result in an individual’s death

How Does The SSA Decide If A Disability Qualifies For SSD?

The SSA essentially asks five questions to determine if an applicant qualifies for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. They are as follows:

  • Are you currently working?
  • Is your condition “severe”?
  • Does the SSA’s listing of medical conditions that qualify as disabilities include a listing for your condition?
  • Are you able to do the work you previously did?
  • Can you perform any other type of work?

The SSA will likely deny your claim for SSD if the answer to the first question is “yes.” Additionally, the SSA may deny your claim if the answer to the second question is “no.”

That said, the SSA may approve your claim if your condition has a listing in its resources. In some cases, even if a condition doesn’t have a listing, the SSA will approve a claim if a condition’s severity equals that of a condition that does have a listing.

Proving Your Disability Is Severe

Proving your disability is severe enough to meet the SSA’s criteria can involve presenting thorough medical evidence. Examples of medical evidence may include (but aren’t necessarily limited to):

  • Test results
  • Official letters/statements from doctors
  • Evidence of treatment

When submitting a claim for SSD, it’s also very important to continue with any treatment plans your physicians have prescribed. This can indicate to the SSA that you take your condition seriously and are not intentionally ignoring it in the hopes of receiving benefits.

Get Help With Your Disability Claim

Be aware that most initial claims for SSD receive denials from the SSA. This isn’t meant to suggest your chances of ever receiving benefits are slim.

 It’s simply meant to help you better understand the value of enlisting professional assistance when seeking benefits.

You don’t need to gather evidence and submit a claim on your own. In these circumstances, it’s often wise to coordinate with a legal expert who has experience handling cases such as yours. 

An SSD lawyer’s expertise may play a critical role in the outcome when you seek benefits for a severe disability. Get started today by completing our form to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

Add new comment

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!