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When is a Person Considered Disabled?

Waukesha County qualifying for SSD benefits attorney

Milwaukee, WI Social Security Disability Lawyer for People With Qualifying Disabilities

In order to qualify for disability benefits through either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must have a qualifying disability according to the definition established by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). This definition is different, and often more strict, than the criteria for determining a disability for the purposes of other benefits like workers' compensation, so it is important to work with an attorney to understand whether you are eligible and how you can best present evidence of your disability during the application process.

Attorney Jonathan Pearson is committed to helping qualifying individuals acquire the Social Security disability benefits to which they are entitled. Jonathan has more than a decade of experience advising and representing clients throughout the process of applying for and securing benefits, and you can trust that he will be the one to personally handle your case. He charges no fees upfront, and he is fully invested in reaching an outcome that gets you the benefits you need.

Determining Whether You Have a Disability

For the purposes of Social Security benefits, the most important question in determining a qualifying disability is whether it prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). If your disability makes you incapable of earning an income that exceeds a designated threshold, then you may be eligible for benefits, provided that you meet other criteria related to your age, work history, and financial need, depending on the type of benefits you are applying for.

In Wisconsin, medical eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is determined through a review by the state's Disability Determination Bureau (DDB) under the guidance of the federal SSA. The DDB uses a five-step process when completing the review:

  1. Determine whether you are currently working. If you are employed in some form, then your monthly income must be below the amount that is considered SGA, which is $1,350 for most qualifying individuals in the year 2022. If you are not currently employed, then you may be eligible based on the following steps.
  2. Determine whether your condition is severe. In this step, the DDB decides whether your disability significantly impairs your performance of basic work tasks. This includes physical tasks like sitting, standing, and walking, as well as mental tasks like remembering important information. For a disability to be considered severe, it must also be expected to last for at least 12 months or be likely to lead to death. Shorter-term disabilities do not qualify for Social Security benefits.
  3. Determine whether your condition is on the SSA's Listing of Impairments. The SSA has a list of severe conditions that affect a variety of body parts and systems. If your specific condition is on this list, and you are eligible based on the above two steps, then your application will likely be granted. If your condition is not on the list, that does not mean you are automatically ineligible, but the DDB will have to proceed with the following steps.
  4. Determine whether you are capable of performing your previous work. At this point, the DDB will seek to determine whether your condition would interfere with your performance of the job responsibilities for any work through which you have earned an income in the past that would qualify as SGA. If so, they will move on to the final step.
  5. Determine whether you are capable of performing any other work. Lastly, the DDB will consider your education, skills, and work experience to determine if there is any other SGA you are capable of performing within the limitations of your condition. If so, your application may be denied at this point, but if not, your application will be granted.

With these steps in mind, it is important to work with your attorney to put together a strong collection of evidence regarding your condition, your medical history, and your work history to support your application. If your application is denied based on the DDB's determination at any of these steps, we can prepare for an appeal so that we have another opportunity to present your case.

Contact a Milwaukee County Social Security Disability Attorney

If you have questions regarding your eligibility for benefits or the status of your application, contact us today for a free consultation at 414-240-4801. We serve clients in Waukesha County, Milwaukee County, and the surrounding areas, including Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Greenfield, and West Allis.



  • Thank you so much Jonathan. I was so tired of waiting almost 2 years for my disability hearing and you told me always stay positive and to not give up. You met with me before my hearing and told me what to expect and when you told me the judge approved my case I was so relieved! The Social Security disability payments I get allow me to keep seeing my doctors and really help us out. Thank you!

    - Shirley

  • Jonathan thank you for helping me win my Social Security disability case. You are so easy to talk to and don’t make me feel stupid each time I call with my questions.

    - Rene

  • Jonathan is very knowledgeable and pleasant,He is very considerate for his client and return my all phone calls promptly.I was very happy for his services. I highly recommend him to any body who needs attorney help.

    - S.P., Wheeling, IL

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