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‘Disability” has a specific meaning under SSA rules

The Social Security Administration has an often complex set of rules and regulations governing the requirements that a claimant must meet before disability benefits are granted. Many Missouri workers who have experienced difficulty working due to a mental or physical condition believe they are disabled but do not meet the SSA’s standards. In fact, over 50 percent of first time applicants are turned down. Consequently, it is important to have an understanding of what disability means when applying for SSD benefits.

The first issue to consider is the type of work the claimant does. The SSA will not only look to work that has been performed in the most recent job but also past relevant work plus other work activity. Past work includes that done in the last 15 years in which training was received. Other work includes jobs that based on training, education, and skills may be reasonably learned.

A second consideration centers on the length of the term of disability. If the claimant has been unable to work at what is considered a substantial and gainful activity level for one year or believes his or her disabling condition will prevent employment for at least 12 months, the SSA may consider that person disabled if other conditions are met. Part of the analysis involves determining the individual’s residual function capacity, which is a measure of what the person can do given the limitations of the disability.

There are multiple levels of appeal for those who have been denied SSD benefits. Having legal representation is advisable at any stage of the process.