By Scott Davis,
you ever wondered what the definition of disability
is? I know you have
we all believe we know who
is disabled and who is not. Heck, you can tell just
by looking at a person! Doctors are usually certain they know
whether their patients meet the definition of disabled.
whose definition of disability are we talking
about? If you think everyone, including the Social Security Administration
(SSA) are on the same page
think again! This article is my
humble attempt to educate everyone, including physicians, regarding
SSAs definition of disability. Please understand it is difficult
to capture the entire definition in a short article; however,
it is possible to set forth a general framework.
me to debunk several longstanding myths about what is means to
Myth #1 You
have to be Totally Disabled to be eligible for Disability Benefits
I am not sure what totally disabled means; I do know
it is a term of art our society uses, but not one SSA uses.
that if you put 100 doctors in a room and asked for a definition
of totally disabled, you would get many different
answers. My guess is that it means one is unable to function at
all in any capacity.
to be eligible for disability benefits, SSA does require that
you not be working in any capacity. However, this does not mean
you have to be to physically and/or psychological unable to function
in any capacity.
Myth #2 You
have to be Permanently Disabled to be eligible for Disability
Again, I am not sure what permanently disabled means;
it is a term of art our society uses, but not one SSA uses. If
a doctor supports a patients claim for disability, they
will frequently state the patient is permanently disabled.
The statement may be true in many cases, but my experience is
that most people who apply for disability benefits with SSA are
not permanently disabled. Even if they were, it is
usually too early to tell if a 45 year old will return to work
before the age of 65.
SSA does not require that you be permanently disabled. In fact,
the issue of whether a disability is or can be permanent is never
an issue at SSA.
What is SSAs
Definition of Disability?
SSA and federal law defines disability as follows, The inability
to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any
medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can
be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected
to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
(citing 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(A).
note that SSAs policy is that disability can be due to any
medical or psychological diagnosis (disorder). Second, contrary
to popular myth, SSA does not require that you be totally
disabled. Third, with regard to duration, the impairment does
not have to be permanent, it only has to prevent you from working
for a minimum of 12 months.
Copyright 2002, Scott E. Davis, P.C., Used with Permission
All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Davis is a social security and long-term disability insurance
attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Davis represents clients throughout
the United States. Although Mr. Davis has experience representing
clients with a broad spectrum of physical and/or psychological
disorders, the majority of his disability practice is devoted
to representing individuals with chronic pain and chronic fatigue
disorders. In almost every case, a fee is charged only if his
client obtains benefits. Mr. Davis invites your questions and
inquiries regarding representation via his web