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Who qualifies for disability determinations?

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at


600. Who qualifies for disability determinations?

We make disability determinations for:

  1. Insured individuals who apply for disability benefits or for a period of disability (as described in Chapter 5);

  2. Widow(er)s and children who qualify because of relationship to an insured worker;

  3. Adults who qualify and apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments;

  4. Children under age 18 who qualify and apply for SSI disability payments (see §517).

This Chapter explains generally how the terms and requirements in Chapter 5 pertain to evaluating disability. It also covers what evidence is needed to make a disability determination.

Last Revised: Jul. 26, 2005

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There are 19 Comments

when you are approved for ssi and you have a young child, they should get the beneifits as their parent, right. well my daughter did not receive any beneifits after i was disabled in 2004 and i don't think this is right. i think she should receive a check once a month too..

my father passed away 25 yrs ago, and my mother is receiving benefits, and my sister who was mentally retarded was receiving benefits before passing away 4 weeks ago. question, will my 90 year old mothers benefits change, now that my sister has passed away?

I am unaware of any change of benefits for this type of relationship. However, you may want to contact SSA directly for this.

my wife has been unable to work for the past three years, would she be able to qualify for disability?

Social Security pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not.

Certain family members of disabled workers also can receive money from Social Security. This is explained in "Can my family get benefits?"
How do I meet the earnings requirement for disability benefits?

In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:

1. A "recent work" test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
2. A "duration of work" test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

See here for details :

i am currently working and 5 months pregnant i dont have insurance but i want to know if i am eligable for disability and for how long im i entitled to it please respond i am confused.

I'am 22 yrs old and i applied for disability in 09 and i missed my evaluation with the doc because of transportation. and im wanting to apply again, i was wondering if iam eligible to recieve disability i go through comcare and im on medication risperdol and zoloft. i see a therapist every 2 weeks. and i have worked in the past but cant keep a job over a month. i been going through comcare since october 2010. so am i eligible to recieve benefits.

Ive been having a reoccuring gout problem and it has caused me to be out of work a lot, i feel i will be loosing my job because iam not reliable attendance. Also i will turn 65 in about 6 months , i am getting ss now and have since age 62. Iam not able to stand for long periods oftime due to bad knee. Will i beable to get disability ss.

There is a possibility to qualify for disability based on gout. See the following page :

However, even if you could qualify for disability I'm not sure it will help you much. For example, if you're already receiving disability (not retirement) benefits, when you reach full retirement age, your benefits will be called retirement benefits instead of disability benefits. You do not need to take any action.

In other words, upon reaching full retirement age, retirement and disability benefits are "interchangeable" and not additive.

Also note there is a five month waiting period before you can begin to receive disability benefits, even if you qualify for them.

You may want to contact Social Security directly for further information.

I am 21 years old I have Siaticia, severe anxoity. I filed back in 2009 but got denied they said because I claimed 11,000 in self employment on my taxes. How much am I able to make a week, a month, & a year & still qualify for help? I can not stand for long periods of time & I can not deal with alot of people I have a nervous breakdown. I am doing my taxes tomorrow however I made about 9000 last year is that too much .

my son has down syndrome and we just found out he is 15 months old. will he be able to get benefits?

I am 67, retired, and receive social security based on my earned eligibility (have completed 40 quarters of contributions). My wife who is 60, has never worked outside home, is she eligible to receive any social security benefits?

If she did not work long enough to qualify, but are receiving Social Security benefits, she can begin collecting retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, if the benefit begins early, the amount will be permanently reduced by a percentage based on the number of months up to her full retirement age.

Benefits paid to her as a spouse will not decrease your retirement benefit.

My boyfriend has seizures and he cant work or drive any type of vehicle because its a danger to himself and others. He has CMSP and thats it... is it possible for him to receive Disability? I dont know what he needs to do exactly, should we go to the Social Security office here and make an appointment to talk to someone? what do I need to do to go about finding out if hes eligible?

I am 40 years old and have been working for about 20 years. I was diagnosed with RSD about 20 years ago and was able to work up until about 6 months ago. I have a very long list of surgeries ( over 20 ) due to a tissue lasticity problem along with arthritis. I have had a neuromodulator placed in my spine 4 times for the RSD but I get scar tissue build up which makes the neuromodulator stop working. My orthopedic surgeon and pain management doctors say it is time to sign up for SSD and I have letters from them along with my occupational and physical therapist. BUT my lawyer states due to my age it may be next to impossible to get approved. Is this true?

I would say that although age is one relatively minor factor in determining qualification for disability (younger people in general are more able to engage in work), it is by no means the most significant factor.

The following link has details regarding how Social Security evaluates cases of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for Social Security Disability : (duplicate)

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