Disability Defined

The Social Security Administration defines disability as an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s). The impairment(s) must be expected to result in death or have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.


Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Substantial gainful activity (SGA) describes a level of work activity and earnings and is one of the factors used by the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility for disability benefits. “Substantial” work involves significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. “Gainful” work activity is that which is performed for pay or profit. To be eligible for disability benefits, an individual must be unable to engage in SGA.

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Qualifying Medical Conditions

The Listing of Impairments is a long list of medical conditions considered by the Social Security Administration to be severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Many of the impairments on the list are permanent or are expected to result in death or include a specific statement of duration. For all others, the evidence must show that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The criteria in the Listing of Impairments are applicable to evaluation of both SSDI and SSI claims.

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