Will I qualify for Massachusetts Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits?

It is not always easy to predict whether Social Security will decide that you are disabled, unless you have an extreme or life-threatening condition. The Social Security Administration has a very technical definition for “disability.” Below I answer common questions. If you have specific questions about your situation, call me. I answer questions.

Social Security’s definition of disability

The Social Security Act defines the term “disability” as an inability “to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” The definition of disabled is the same for Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.

If you can answer yes to the following questions, you may qualify for SSI or Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits:

  1. Are you unable to work full time or unable to earn over a minimal monthly amount working part time?
  2. Is the reason you cannot work one or more significant medical problems? (By contrast, if you are unable to work because there are no jobs in your area or no one will hire you, you are not eligible for disability benefits.)
  3. Have these limitations lasted, or are they expected to last for at least a year?
  4. Are you unable to do work that you did in the past 15 years because of your medical problems?
  5. Considering your medical problems, age, education, and work experience, are you unable to do other work? (This rule becomes easier to satisfy as you turn 50, 55, and 60.)

The difference between Social Security disability benefits and SSI disability

Social Security disability benefits are paid to people who have worked long enough, and recently enough; for most workers, half of the last 10 years. Disability benefits are insurance benefits. Money is deducted out of almost everyone’s paycheck for FICA which is a fancy name for Social Security. Part of that money, about 3 cents in every dollar, pays for Social Security disability insurance. Notice that last word: insurance. It is something you paid for: insurance for when you can’t work easily or at all because of medical problems.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability is paid to people with little or no income and very few assets who may or may not have ever worked.

Get assistance from an experienced Springfield Massachusetts disability attorney

Do you live in Western Massachusetts? Do you have questions about a claim for SSI or Social Security disability benefits? If so, I am available to help. If you are not already represented by a Massachusetts disability attorney and want my evaluation, give me a brief description of your claim using the form to the right. Or you may e-mail or call my office at:

Jonathan Abbott
Massachusetts disability attorney

Licensed to practice law in Massachusetts since 1978

National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives Sustaining Member
National Association of Disability Representatives Member and 2006 Man of the Year

E-mail me
Toll-free: 888-277-7741
Phone: 413-253-0052
Fax: 413-253-0234

30 Boltwood Walk
Amherst, Massachusetts 01002

PO Box 2368
Amherst, Massachusetts 01004

Free Consultations and No Attorney’s Fee Unless You Win.

I will meet with you personally—in my office or your home.