Your work history plays a major role in your application for Social Security disability benefits. Your ability to work is a factor in determining whether your medical condition is considered disabling and whether you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity. These are two requirements to qualify for SSD benefits.
The definition of disability
In addition to having a disabling medical condition, you must be unable to work to qualify as disabled for the purpose of SSD benefits. This means you cannot work at your current position any longer, nor can you do work you did in the past or adjust to a new type of work due to your disability.
The Social Security Administration will look at several factors when determining whether you can work. They will consider:
- Your medical conditions
- How old you are
- The level of your education
- What work you performed in the past
- Whether you have any skills that would allow you to transfer to another job
In addition, the SSA will consider whether you can perform substantial gainful activity.
Substantial gainful activity
You must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity to be considered disabled. Essentially, this means you cannot work to earn enough to meet your basic financial needs due to your disability.
What constitutes substantial gainful activity depends on annual earning guidelines. In 2022, if your average monthly income is more than $1,350, this is considered substantial gainful activity and your application for SSD benefits will be denied.
You must meet the SSA’s definition of disability to be awarded benefits
You may think it is obvious that your medical condition is disabling. Perhaps it severely limits your daily activities, requires constant care or causes constant pain.
Still, the SSA will only award SSD benefits if you meet the agency’s definition of disability. Your current and past work history and earnings play a major role in determining whether you will qualify for benefits.