How is disability defined?
A person who becomes injured or ill and is unable to work might be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits from the federal government. In order to receive these benefits, however, the disability must fall under the definition of disability established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA definition of disability is a complex one. In order to be considered disabled by the Administration a person must be unable to “engage in any substantial gainful activity’ due to a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
Many are confused about what substantial gainful activity means. Substantial gainful activity is a level of work activity that one engages in for pay. So, if a person is unable to perform work in order to support him or herself, due to a physical or mental impairment, he or she is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity and might be considered disabled by the SSA. The SSA measures whether work is a substantial gainful activity based on earning guidelines that vary depending on when the wages were earned. Each year, the level for “SGA” goes up. It is important to note that there are special rules for blind persons.
If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impediment, you should consider applying for government benefits. An experienced disability attorney will know whether you are likely to be considered disabled by the SSA and will be able to guide you during the initial application process. This guidance is critical as the SSA denies a large amount of claims.