Many people who are familiar with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) assume that its definition of “disability” is the same definition used by the Social Security Administration. However, this is not the case. The Social Security disability program has a very different definition of a disability than the one used in the ADA. The Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability is much stricter than the ADA’s – meaning that it is significantly harder to prove to the Social Security Administration that your condition meets their definition of a disability.
In order to collect Social Security disability benefits, you must show that because of a medical condition, you a) cannot do work that you did before, b) cannot adjust to other work because of your medical conditions, and c) have a disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or to result in death. (There are other requirements as well, beyond proving the extent of your disability. For example, you must show that you worked long enough, and recently enough, under Social Security to qualify for benefits.)
This is very different from the definition of disability used in the ADA. The ADA considers an individual to have a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. (“Major life activities” includes a wide variety of activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, thinking and working.)
It makes sense that the different programs use different definitions, because the ADA is intended to help workers with disabilities find and maintain employment, and Social Security Disability benefits are intended for people who cannot work. However, the multiple definitions of “disability” can be confusing.
Proving Your Disability Qualifies You For Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, or if your application was denied, and you would like to appeal, it is important to understand the Social Security Administration’s criteria. There are certain medical conditions that will automatically qualify you as disabled. The Social Security Administration has a complete list of these conditions online. However, you do not necessarily need to have one of these conditions in order to qualify for benefits.
You must also have medical proof of your disability. It is important that you obtain medical records that will demonstrate the extent of your physical problems. One of the best ways to do this is to request that your health care provider write up a medical source statement, in which the provider specifically explains your medical situation, and the extent of your functional capacity.
Your odds of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits are higher if you have the assistance of a lawyer. Albany attorney Paul Giannetti has experience helping applicants get the Social Security disability benefits they deserve. You can call the office today at (866) 868-2960, or you can reach out online.