Social Security Disability 101: Who are Covered?

The Social Security Administration or SSA provides monetary and medical care benefits to persons with disabilities. Depending on individual situations, a person may be covered under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Who can qualify for these Federal programs? A set of criteria determines eligibility for social security disability benefits. Here are the basics:

Physically Impaired

Physical disability must be “medically determinable.” In simpler terms, physicians must be able to identify and diagnose the impairment. Conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, the special senses, and speech usually meet this criteria, since these often result in the loss of or limitations in functions like moving, hearing, or seeing. Other physical impairments are discussed in the SSA website.

Mentally Impaired

Mental impairments should be medically determinable, as well. Among the mental health conditions that can be covered by the SSDI or SSI are organic mental disorders (originating from brain dysfunctions), psychotic or affective mental conditions (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depressive syndrome), and intellectual disability.

Limiting Conditions

Not all physical or mental disabilities are covered by Social Security programs. The type of disease, severity or frequency of symptoms, extent of work limitations, and other factors are often considered in determining a person’s eligibility. Aside from having a reliable medical provider, a disabled person can get the help of a knowledgeable social security disability lawyer to further assess and discuss eligibility issues.


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