How do I know if I qualify for disability benefits?

To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s very narrow definition of “disability.”

You cannot have a partial or temporary disability. Instead, your condition must:

  • Be a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments (in other words, it must be diagnosed or capable of being diagnosed)
  • Have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death
  • Prevent you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity.”

Substantial gainful activity (SGA) refers to income. If you earn above a certain amount each month, you will not be considered to be “disabled.” The SSA adjusts those amounts each year. In 2020, the thresholds are:

  • $1,260 per month for non-blind individuals
  • $2,110 per month for blind individuals.

When you apply for disability benefits, Virginia Disability Determination Services (DDS) will decide whether you meet the SSA’s definition of disability. A DDS examiner and medical consultant will review your medical records, employment records and other evidence in order to make this decision.