The Social Security Administration offers two forms of benefits for disabled people who are unable to work. Depending on your income level and severity of disability, you may qualify for disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income. This page discusses how to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.


In order to qualify for SSD, a person must:

  • have a physical or mental disability (or both) that prevents them from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (also known as SGA)
  • have a condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
  • be under the age of 65
  • have worked five of the last 10 years from the determined date of disability onset
  • live in the United States or one of its territories
  • “Substantial gainful activity” is a standard that the Social Security administration uses to measure whether or not a person is earning enough to support themselves. It is measured in terms of monthly earnings, and changes each year to keep up with economic factors. For 2010, blind employees can make up to $1,640 per month and non-blind employees can make up to $1,000 a month and still qualify for benefits.


There are many ways that a person can become injured or sick enough to lose the ability to work. The Social Security Administration has a list of ailments that qualify a person for disability benefits, including:

  • respiratory conditions
  • cardiovascular conditions
  • autoimmune disorders
  • endocrine disorders
  • neurological conditions
  • mental health disorders
  • musculoskeletal issues

There are many ailments included in the “Blue Book,” but yours doesn’t have to be listed in order to qualify. If you can demonstrate that your unlisted disorder keeps you from working and earning enough income for yourself or your family, you can apply for benefits.

My Firm helps claimants appeal their denied disability claims. After you’ve made an initial application and received an unfavorable decision, call my office to set up a free consultation.