Social Security’s Definition of Disability

You must be disabled to work and earn a substantial living based on your age, education and past work history. The disability must last at least 12 months or result in death. Social Security recognizes physical and mental conditions.

Social Security does not have a partial disability or a short-term disability program.

Social Security has Two Disability Programs:

Social Security Disability (Title 2)
Supplemental Security Income Disability (Title 16)

The medical requirement is the same for both programs. The Title 2 program is a social insurance program. The Title 16 program is a welfare program.

Who Makes the Decision?

Social Security does not make the medical decision.

Social Security takes your claim for disability benefits and decides if you meet the disability work requirement.

The Bureau of Disability Determination Services makes the medical decision. The bureau is a state agency.

It can take a long time at the initial level (4 to 6 months) to get a medical decision. Social Security’s disability programs are not a quick fix for financial difficulties.

Social Security does have special procedures when you have a very serious or terminal illness to shorten the time it takes to make a medical decision, so make sure you tell Social Security if you have such a condition.