Many people might consider themselves to be disabled, but then they are shocked to learn that their application for Social Security disability benefits has been denied. One of the most common reasons for a denial is that an applicant does not have a disability as it is defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). So, how do you know if you have a disability for Social Security purposes?

One way to determine your eligibility for Social Security is to discuss your situation with an attorney who has extensive experience handling Social Security disability claims and appeals. The following is some general information about what might qualify as a disability so you can receive SSDI benefits.

SSA’s Definition of Disability

In order for the SSA to consider you to be disabled, you must have a medical, psychiatric, or psychological impairment, and that impairment must prevent you from performing substantial work. Your impairment must have kept you out of work for at least 12 months, or it is estimated to keep you from work for 12 months or longer.

Because there is a durational requirement of 12 months, it disqualifies a broken bone or another injury that causes you to miss work but is expected to heal in a few months from being a disability. On the other hand, a chronic back condition that causes ongoing pain might be expected to last for years or indefinitely, so it might qualify as a disability.

What is Substantial Work?

An impairment does not have to prevent you from doing all types of work, but you must not be able to complete substantial work. This generally means that you are not able to earn over a certain amount, which is set by the SSA. For 2020, earning more than $1,260 per month is considered to be substantial work, with a few exceptions. If you are self-employed, the SSA will assess your work level using other tests.

Some people think they will keep pushing themselves to work as much as possible until their application is approved, but earning more than the substantial gainful activity threshold when you apply for benefits will likely disqualify you. This is a common reason for a denial, as the SSA assumes you do not have a disability because you can perform substantial work. Often, the SSA will not even look at the rest of your application in this situation before they issue an immediate denial.

Providing Medical Proof of Your Disability

The SSA will not simply take your word that you have an impairment. Instead, you must present medical evidence that shows the nature of your impairment and how this type of impairment creates limitations that keep you from working. Your records must be recent, thorough, and accurate. You want to have a doctor who understands that you are applying for disability benefits completing your records.

Many people struggle to prove their disabilities to the SSA. One way to help prove that you have a qualified disability is to seek help from a skilled Social Security disability lawyer from the start of the claim process.