Social security disability

Lupus Foundation of America

Resource Content

Social Security Disability is the federal program, supported by payroll taxes, that pays benefits to people who cannot work due to a medical condition. In order to qualify, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability and is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

You will be considered disabled if you can provide medical evidence that are unable to do the work that you did before and you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s). No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

Generally, to be eligible for disability benefits, you must have worked long enough and acquired enough work credits. The number of work credits required will depend on your age when you become disabled. There are different eligibility rules for children under the age of 18. 

How Social Security determines if you are disabled

There are five steps along the path to being declared disabled. 

  1. Are you working? As of 2016, if you make more than $1,130 in a month, that is presumed to be engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).  This may make you ineligible for benefits.  This amount changes from year to year and can be found on the SSA website. 
  2. Is your condition severe? Your impairment(s) must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities, for example walking, sitting, seeing, and remembering. 
  3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? Social Security maintains a Listing of Impairments for each of the major body systems. Lupus is listed under Immune System Disorders in section 14.02.
  4. Can you do the work you previously did? If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then Social Security must determine if your condition interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. 
  5. Can you do any type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, Social Security will see if you are able to adjust to other work. They consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved.