According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 U.S. adults has some form of disability impacting their lives. However, simply having a “disability” does not necessarily mean that a person is eligible for disability benefits.
What is a disability?
Per the Social Security Administration, a disability is “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) 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.”
Many people with the most common disabilities, however, would not meet the above standard, such as:
- ADHD suffers
- Deaf or people who are hard-of-hearing
- Vision-impaired people
- Those who must use a wheelchair
- People on the autism spectrum
While the above people face significant difficulties, there is a vast gap between those difficulties and a complete inability. In this case, a disability isn’t necessarily a disability. There is a nuance to the legal language of disability that can cause a great deal of confusion.
What does qualify as disabled?
The standard for benefits is entirely work-related. The term “substantial gainful activity” is the guiding language in the law. If a person can work, meaning they can successfully perform a job’s duties, they do not need disability payments.
Most often, disability is available for those who survive an accident such as a car crash. A person with significant injuries after an accident may not fully recover enough to work for months. If that time is expected to be more than a year, then that person meets the standard.