Complete Social Security Disability Guide

If you are a person who is physically incapable of working and earning their livelihood, then you can always avail the Social Security benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI or Supplemental Security Income or SSI programs. But first, you should know the meaning of disability as per the Social Security laws.

Who is considered ‘Disabled’ under Social Security Act?

Different agencies have a different criterion to consider a person as disabled but not all of them may be in agreement with the Social Security Act which has its own set of guidelines. So to meet the eligibility for benefits under the SSDI and SSI following are the points to be kept in mind –
  • You are not employed or your earnings are limited, as fixed by the Social Security Administration
  • You are suffering from medical conditions severe in nature that may last for at least 12 months or even more and maybe the possibility of death due to them
  • The medical condition affects your ability to work
  • You cannot do the work or perform the tasks in your job that you had
  • You are incapable of learning new tasks which require less physical labour and are necessary for the job

Scenarios where you will be considered for Disabled

  • If you have one medical condition or when you suffer from the combined effect of several medical conditions
  • If you have physical and or psychiatric issues
  • Even when your medical condition is not well understood as in the case of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, etc. Though proving it may require more amount of effort
  • If due to your medical condition you can still work but the treatment that you are undergoing for the condition prevents you from working

When are your Disability claims denied?

  • If your medical condition will be cured in less than 12 months
  • If your medical condition can be controlled with the treatment which also does not affect your ability to work  
  • If you are physically fine to work but do not have a job due to the high rate of unemployment
  • If the medical condition inhibits the amount of work that you can do and will result in lesser pay
  • Merely the inability to drive due to the medical condition does not mean you will be termed disabled

How to get Additional Benefits for a Disabled Person

If the attorney is well-versed with the Social Security Act then he or she get their Social Security Disabled client to get more benefits under the scheme from the Employment Law Standpoint. For this, you can consider the following points –
  • If the person was exposed to a workplace injury
  • If the worker was terminated by the employer after the work-related injury
  • If the injury whether sustained at the workplace or somewhere else still did not interfere with the person’s ability to work with the reasonable accommodation such as –

1) The employer laid off the employee instead of making the reasonable accommodation
2) The injured employee began receiving more complaints against him after the injury
3)  The employer straightaway terminated the employee instead of being aware of his medical condition 

What is The Americans with Disability Act?

The employees who suffer from an injury which limits their ability to work have a special legislation in place to protect their interests. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was passed in 1990 has provided clear guidelines against the discrimination towards the people with disabilities. This act is applicable to the employers who have 15 or more people working for them. ADA was further amended by the Congress which then passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) which came into effect on January 1, 2009. This broadens the terms of ADA positively affects the disabled individuals who are capable and willing to work along with a reasonable amount of accommodation.

How to make accommodation for the disabled employees at the workplace?

The employer will be required to do the following –
  • Make the existing facilities accessible to the individuals with a disability
  • By job restructuring
  • To make the modifications to the equipment at the workplace
  • To modify the exams, policies as well as the training material
  • To make qualified readers and the interpreters available for the disabled worker

Also, keep in mind, the employee should inform the employer regarding his need for the accommodations necessary to perform the task in the workplace.

What are the other acts that protect the interest of the Employees at a workplace?

Rehabilitation Act

There is a Rehabilitation Act Title V known as “Non-discrimination under Federal Grants and Programs” which is in place to protect the employees with disabilities of the federal government. Its regulations are same as the ADA.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

It includes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which protects the women who become pregnant and it requires that the women are treated in the same way as any other person with a health condition.

Age Discrimination In Employment Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is in place to protect the employees who are over 40 years of age as it makes it unlawful for the employers to discriminate against their present employees or even the job applicants due to their age.

The Family Medical Leave Act

Enacted in February 2003, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows the employees to get up to 12 weeks of leave (unpaid) during the 12 month period whether for the birth of a child or in case of adoption. It also includes the option of leave to tend to a family member or during the time the employee himself is ill.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits

If a person wants to receive the Unemployment Insurance benefits, they must claim that they are in good shape and are willing to work but are not able to find work. This is going to be different than the disability benefits which require a person to prove his medical condition and how it prevents him to work efficiently or at all.


People seeking employment or the current employees with a medical condition may be at a risk of being discriminated against, but the government has several laws and policies in place to prevent the discrimination and promote a healthy and conducive working environment while also supporting the disabled individuals or the people who are unemployed.