3.2 Severity of Disability


Senior man on wheelchair looking laptop in a yard

You may remember from the section, “What Disabilities Qualify?,” that having a disability caused by a disease or medical condition does not automatically guarantee approval of disability benefits. You must show that the disability is severe enough to prevent you from working or participating in Substantial Gainful Activity.

In 2024, Substantial Gainful Activity is $1,550/month

For your impairment to be considered severe, you must meet the criteria for the Blue Book Listing of Impairment for your specific disability. This is basically a list of medical conditions for each category of impairment. If your disability does not meet these conditions, it will be harder to qualify for benefits. To ensure that you meet the listing level, a disability advocate with medical expertise will need to comb through the information listed in the SSA’s Blue Book and ensure that it matches your condition.

Remember that a disability is not always obvious. Many invisible illnesses fly under the radar to the average observer all while significantly limiting a person’s ability to work effectively and make a steady income. It helps to have an expert look through the listing of impairments. After that they will need to connect the dots between your disability and the medical evidence supporting your claim. This is yet another reason why Medical Evidence is key to proving the severity of your disability. Read more about that in Developing Medical Evidence.

While the severity of your disability is important when determining your eligibility, it does not determine the amount of pay you’ll receive each month. (Remember, that figure is tied to your income.)

Note for Veterans: When it comes to determining amount of your monthly, Social Security Disability benefits are different from VA Disability Benefits. The VA attaches a rating to your disability that will decide your monthly compensation. Such a rating does not exist for SSD benefits. Read more about SSD and VA Benefits for Veterans here.

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