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The Definition Of Disability

By Kenton Koszdin on September 4, 2018 | In Disability Insurance

The Definition Of Disability

In 1954, the Congress established the first operating disability program under the Social Security Act. The 1954 amendments established a disability “freeze” for disabled workers—i.e., excluding a disabled worker’s periods of disability when calculating retirement benefits.

The 1954 law defined disability as:

  • Blindness, or
  • The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or to be of long-continued and indefinite duration.

Eligibility was limited to persons whose:

  • Disability had lasted for at least 6 months, and
  • Earnings record demonstrated a strong and recent connection to the workforce—i.e., 20 quarters of coverage in a 40-quarter period

To meet Social Security’s definition of disability, an applicant must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):

  • That is expected to result in death, or
  • That has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

There is a separate definition of disability for children (under age 18) who are applying for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. A disabled child also qualifies for the SSI employment supports described later in the Red Book. The Red Book serves as a general reference source about the employment-related provisions of Social Security Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income Programs for educators, advocates, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors who serve people with disabilities.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the term “substantial gainful activity” to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be SGA.

“Gainful” work activity is:

  • Work performed for pay or profit; or
  • Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or
  • Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

The more information that applicants for disability benefits possess about how the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers and evaluates their type of disability, the more prepared they will be for the sometimes long and arduous road to benefit eligibility. The Kenton Koszdin Law Office provides experienced representation in all types of disability cases, including Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation. If you have any questions or concerns about any kind of disability cases, including Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation, call the Kenton Koszdin Law Office today! We even offer free in-home consultations! Call 800-438-7734 or visit us online. We look forward to hearing from you. Se habla espańol!

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