Social Security Q&A

By McClatchy-Tribune

Q: How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

A: If you are an adult, you must be unable to work for a year or more because of a medical condition or combination of medical impairments. Overall, we use a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled. The process considers any current work activity you are doing. It also considers your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work. To be found disabled:

— You must be unable to do work you did before you became disabled and we must decide you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition; and your disability must last, or be expected to last, for at least one year or to result in death.
Social Security pays only for total disability. We do not pay benefits for partial or short-term disability. For more information, read our publication Disability Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10029.html.


Q: If I go back to work, will I automatically lose my Social Security disability benefits?
A: Social Security has several work incentive programs to help people who want to work. You may be able to receive benefits and continue your health care coverage during a trial work period. For information about Social Security’s work incentives and how they can help you return to work, you should:

— Visit our special work site at www.socialsecurity.gov/work;
— See the Red Book on work incentives at www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook;
— Call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778); or
— Contact your local Social Security office (www.socialsecurity.gov/locator).
For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213.