To be awarded Social Security Disability do I have to be disabled for a whole year?
I came across a question on one site that was sent in by a reader. The question went something like this: "I was told that I have to have a disability that lasts a year. But do I actually have to be disabled for a year to get social security disability approved ?."
When I find questions like this, it becomes very clear to me that social security does not do an adequate job of explaining their definition of disability (but, in all honesty, this can be a fairly difficult thing to do, considering how detailed that definition is).
Perhaps this is a good way to explain it, or at least to begin to explain it. From the social security administration's standpoint, the actual condition with which you've been diagnosed is somewhat irrelevant. Likewise, the length of time you've had this condition may be equally irrelevant.
If that's true, then what makes you disabled for social security disability or SSI disability?
Bottom line, it is this: your inability to work and earn a certain minimum level of income (known as substantial gainful activity), as a result of your condition, for a minimum of twelve months.
A more detailed way of explaining it however, would be this:
Your condition, or various conditions, must result in functional limitations (as measured by social security, after an analysis of your medical records) that 1. preclude your ability to engage in work that you've done in the past, while earning a certain minimum amount (substantial gainful activity) and 2. preclude your ability to engage in suitable forms of other work, as determined by your age, work skills, educational attainment, and rated functional limitations, again while earning a certain minimum amount (substantial gainful activity). And, of course, this "state of disability" must last for at least one full year (though it does not have to have lasted a full year before you actually file for disability
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
Disability in the Various States: