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Total disability assessments in SSD applications

People in California applying for Social Security Disability may wonder how the Social Security Administration assesses whether or not an applicant is totally disabled. The government agency uses a standard of total disability to determine whether a person is sufficiently disabled to be eligible to receive disability benefits. According to the administration, total disability can be described as the inability to engage in a work activity to earn a substantial, gainful wage for a period of at least one year.

There are several conditions that applicants for Social Security Disability must meet in order for their benefits applications to be successful. First, their condition must be considered severe; this can be on the basis of a single impairment or the combination of several conditions. The impairment in condition can be mental or physical and must be considered by both the disability examiner and medical consultant to be more significant than a "non-severe impairment" like a temporary sprain.

In addition, the severity of the impairment must be such that the person is not able to work at a level that could provide a meaningful income. The SSA uses the term "substantial gainful activity", which means the ability to earn a specified amount each month. Furthermore, the condition must last for at least a full year. These claims and the extent of an applicant's disability are assessed by disability examiners to determine whether or not they can work at a previous job.

Disability examiners initially deny up to 70 percent of applications for SSD benefits on the basis that the applicant has the capacity to earn an income through previous work or an alternate job. People who have been denied disability benefits on this basis can challenge this determination at a disability hearing, and they are entitled to have the assistance of an attorney when there.

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