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Frequently Asked Questions: Social Security Administration

How does the SSA determine if I am disabled?

Disability under Social Security for an adult is based on your inability to work because of a medical condition. To be considered disabled:

  • You must be unable to do work as you did before and SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of a medical condition. 

  • Your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

  • You must meet the pre-established medical criteria.

Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability.

For adults, the SSA uses a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled under Social Security. The process considers any current work activity you are doing, and your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work.