When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have a severe impairment that keeps you from working. If your condition is not severe enough, you will not qualify for SSDI.
The SSA defines a severe disability as one that significantly limits your ability to perform basic work activities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step process to determine your condition’s severity. To ensure a fair assessment of disability and to have guided support while filing a disability claim, seek the help of an Atlanta disability lawyer.
Our attorneys have compiled useful information to help you understand what the SSA considers a severe disability and what people with disabilities can do to file a successful claim.
What Does Severe Disability Mean Under SSDI?
According to the SSA, you must have a physical or intellectual disability that limits necessary activities like:
You must be unable to perform these actions for at least 12 months. If your condition prevents you from performing basic working activities, you might qualify. If it doesn’t, you will be unable to get SSDI benefits.
Understanding the Eligibility Criteria for SSDI
SSDI only covers total disabilities. That means:
- Your disability has lasted (or is expected to last) for a year or more. Or it’s expected to result in death.
- You cannot perform the work you did before due to your condition.
- You cannot adjust to other types of work because of your condition.
Social Security does not pay for short-term or partial disability. Your disability must be severe enough to keep you from working. The program assumes workers can turn to other forms of assistance for short-term disabilities.
Substantial Gainful Activity
According to the SSA, a severe disability prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you are earning more than a certain amount, the SSA will consider it SGA.
The threshold for SGA increases slightly each year. For 2020, SGA for non-blind individuals is a monthly gross income of $1,470. For blind individuals, the SGA is $2,460 per month.
If you make more than the SGA amount, Social Security will not consider your condition severe enough. In other words, a severe disability will prevent you from earning a livable income.
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What Are Some Examples of Severe Disabilities?
The SSA maintains an impairment list to use when looking at SSDI applications. The SSA has recognized that conditions on the list can be severe disabilities.
If your condition is on the list, it doesn’t mean you automatically qualify for SSDI. However, the SSA is more likely to consider you for disability benefits. If your condition is not on the list, the SSA will compare your disease to a listed one.
The adult listings include 14 categories of disabling conditions. Here are the groups and examples of the listed conditions for each.
1. Musculoskeletal system disorders, including:
- Spine disorders
- Soft tissue injuries
- Reconstructive surgery of a major joint
2. Special senses and speech disorders, including:
- Loss of central visual acuity
- Visual impairment in the better eye
- Ménière’s disease
- Speech loss
- Contraction of the visual field in the better eye
- Hearing loss not treated or not treated with cochlear implantation
3. Respiratory disorders, including:
- Chronic respiratory disorders
- Chronic pulmonary hypertension
- Lung transplant
- Cystic Fibrosis
4. Cardiovascular system disorders, including:
- Chronic heart failure
- Heart transplant
- Ischemic heart disease
- Symptomatic congenital heart disease
- Recurrent arrhythmias
- Peripheral arterial disease
5. Digestive system disorders, including:
- Chronic liver disease
- Short bowel syndrome (SBS)
- Liver transplant
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
6. Genitourinary disorders, including:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Complications of chronic kidney disease
- Nephrotic syndrome
7. Hematological disorders, including:
- Sickle cell disease
- Disorders of bone marrow failure
8. Skin disorders, including:
- Bullous disease
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
- Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes
9. Endocrine disorders, including:
- Pituitary gland disorders
- Adrenal gland disorders
- Parathyroid gland disorders
- Thyroid gland disorders
10. Congenital disorders, including
- non-mosaic Down syndrome
11. Neurological disorders, including:
- Benign brain tumors
- Spinal cord disorders
- Parkinsonian syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cerebral palsy
12. Mental disorders, including:
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Depressive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Eating disorders
13. Cancers, including:
- Soft tissue cancers of the head and neck
- Skin cancers
- Thyroid cancer
- Breast cancer
- Pancreas cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Liver cancer
14. Immune system disorders, including:
- Immune deficiency disorders
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Sjögren’s syndrome
How to File for Severe Disability Insurance in Georgia
In Georgia, filing for disability insurance is a multi-step process. If your condition significantly limits your ability to work and earn an income, you will need to follow the steps below to begin the process of filing a disability claim in Georgia:
- Determine your eligibility: Disabled individuals have to meet the eligibility criteria for the severe disability program in Georgia.
- Gather necessary information: Collect all relevant personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth certificates, medical records, employment history, and financial information. These details will be required when completing the application for Disability Insurance Benefits.
- Apply online or in-person: Eligible individuals can apply for disability benefits in Georgia online through the SSA’s website or by scheduling an appointment at their local Social Security office to apply.
- Complete the application: Provide accurate and detailed information on the disability application form. Include information about the disabling medical conditions, healthcare providers, and how the disability limits your ability to work. Be thorough and ensure that all sections of the application are completed accurately.
- Submit supporting documentation: Along with the application, disabled individuals should submit any supporting documents that can strengthen their claim. This may include medical records, test results, treatment history, statements from healthcare professionals, and any other relevant evidence that demonstrates the severity and impact of the disability.
- Cooperate with Disability Determination Services: If Disability Adjudication Services (DAS) requests additional information or schedules a consultative examination, disabled individuals should be cooperative and provide the necessary documentation or attend the required appointments. This will help support your claim and avoid delays in the decision-making process.
- Follow up on the application: You should stay informed about the status of your disability claim. You can check the status online through your SSA account or contact the local SSA office to inquire about the progress of your application.
- Seek legal assistance if needed: If the disability claim is denied or you encounter challenges during the application process, consult a disability attorney specializing in Social Security disability claims.
How Can I Prove a Severe Disability?
You will need to provide thorough proof of your medical condition when applying for SSDI. The medical evidence should show that your condition makes you unable to work and will last for at least a year.
The SSA will deny your application if it does not see enough evidence of a severe disability. If you are worried about getting approval, it’s best to work with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer.
An SSDI lawyer can help you build a strong application. They will know what the SSA is looking for to approve a claim. If you have already been denied benefits, your lawyer can help you appeal the denial.
How Long Does It Take to Be Approved for Severe Disability Benefits?
The time it takes to be approved for disability benefits can vary depending on several factors. Typically, the application process for disability benefits can be lengthy, and it may take several months or even an extended period to receive a decision.
Here are factors that can impact your SSDI processing time:
- Initial application: The initial application for disability benefits can take several weeks to complete and submit. Once the application is submitted, it undergoes a review process by the DAS, which conducts comprehensive assessments to determine eligibility.
- Medical documentation: The availability and completeness of medical documentation are crucial factors in the decision-making process. It may take time to gather all the necessary medical records and reports from healthcare providers to support the claim. The DAS may request additional information or consultative examinations to assess the severity of the disability.
- Case complexity: The complexity of the disability case can impact the processing time. Some cases may require a more extensive review, especially if there are multiple medical conditions or the evidence is complex and requires thorough evaluation.
- Backlog and workload: The workload and backlog of disability claims at the DAS and SSA can affect the processing time. If there is a high volume of claims or staffing shortages, it may result in delays.
- Appeals: If the initial application is denied, the applicant may request reconsideration or file an appeal. These additional steps can extend the processing time as the case goes through further reviews and evaluations.
It’s important to note that the processing time is not based on calendar time but rather on the time required to conduct comprehensive assessments and review all the necessary documentation.
Social Security’s goal is to ensure accurate and fair decisions while processing claims efficiently. Retaining a severe disability attorney near you can help facilitate the process and potentially reduce delays in receiving a decision.
How Much Will I Get Paid for My Severe Disability?
The Social Security Administration considers medical evidence and functional limitations to determine the payment amount.
While there is no specific payment amount tied to each condition, individuals with cognitive impairments, severe disabilities, and behavioral disorders all play a role in determining the level of assistance they may receive.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
Applying for SSDI can be stressful and frustrating. At John Foy & Associates, we aim to make the process as straightforward as possible. We know what it takes to prove that you have a severe disability and can assist you with appealing if your claim is denied.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation. We’ll discuss your options and how we can help. Plus, we do not charge a fee unless we win your case.