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How does the Social Security Administration define disability?

At some point in their life a Philadelphia resident will experience an illness, injury or ailment that keeps them from going to work. From a bad cold to a broken bone, accidents and sicknesses hit individuals throughout their lives and keep them from doing what they need to do to live their lives. However, not every ailment that plagues a Pennsylvanian will qualify them for benefits from the Social Security Administration.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits a person's ailment must meet the Social Security Administration's established definition of disability. There are three parts to the definition, and each part will be discussed in turn below.

First, a person is disabled if they cannot do the work that they did before suffering their illness or injury. For example, people who drive a bus for their job but who breaks their leg may not be able to safely perform the tasks of their work. This injury may satisfy the first part of the Social Security Administration's three part definition of disability.

Second, a person is disabled if they cannot adjust their work to do other tasks in light of their illness or injury. The injured bus driver in our prior paragraph may begin to run into problems with this prong of the disability test: if they can do office work or perform other tasks for their employer while recovering from their broken leg then they may not meet this portion of the definition.

Finally, a person is disabled if their illness or injury is expected to last for at least one year. While a person may suffer a significant break to a bone, it is unlikely that the bus driver in this example would still be in the same state of recovery a year after their accident as they were when the incident initially occurred.

All three parts of the disability definition must be met for a person to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To have a case reviewed, readers are encouraged to discuss their possible claims with a disability benefits attorney.

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee