If I can’t do physical work and can’t find a non-physical job, will my Social Security Disability application be approved?

By / March 3, 2016 / Social Security Disability & SSI Basic Facts / 10 Comments

Learn how your Social Security Disability application is evaluated when you apply for disability because you cannot do heavy physical work.

Disabled from Physical Work
It is fairly common for workers to become injured or to develop an illness that limits them from working in a physically demanding occupation. It is also fairly common that people in this situation have trouble finding a non-physical, or less physically demanding job. In such circumstances, whether or not your Social Security Disability application is approved depends upon your physical limitations, your work history, your age, and your education, training, and transferable work skills.

How Age and Work History Fit In
If you are able to perform an occupation that you have performed in the past, then your disability claim will likely be denied, even if you cannot find a job. On the other hand, if you are unable to perform any occupations that you have done in the past, your ability to work in a new occupation will be evaluated considering your education, training, or transferable skills from past work as well as your physical or mental limitations. Age is also considered in determining whether you have the ability to begin a new occupation with different criteria applying to older workers age fifty through fifty-four and age fifty-five and older. Our article How Does the Social Security Administration Apply Social Security Laws to Determine If I Am Disabled? discusses the Social Security disability evaluation process in more detail.

File an Application and Get a Claim Determination
If you aren’t sure about your eligibility, it’s a good idea to play it safe and get a formal decision by filing a Social Security Disability application with the Social Security Administration or, at least get the input of one of the many skilled Social Security Disability attorneys.

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  • LC

    My career path has become way to physically demanding, as I have a genetic disease that has progressed recently. I know I have the capibilities to work in a less physically demanding environment but I can not find any without a degree. Is there a type of disability program that will help me while I attend school and find a job that can meet my limitations? Im still young and am not okay with the idea of being on disability the rest of my life.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear L.C.,

      I suggest that you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD). If you are approved, you can apply for a Ticket to Work and take advantage of the rehabilitation services the Ticket offers to pursue a career path. Simultaneously with your SSD application, you might contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to see if you are eligible for any financial assistance while you prepare for another occupation. If you pursue both at the same time, you may have something lined up through Voc Rehab even if you do not meet the Social Security disability requirements.


  • Delma smith

    I’ve been knocked back on disability pension but have been put on disability employment services I am 59 years old have been working in supermarkets for over 40 years so know nothing else I was knocked back as I’m not under a specialist. I’m not under a specialist as I’m still waiting for a position to open up I have been waiting for about 6 months now. I need twenty points and have failed to reach this mark according to their system. I have copd which means I’m always tired can’t breath and finding everything just to hard. Help

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Delma,

      Please explain what you mean by “knocked back” in both places you used the phrase. When I understand better what you mean, I will try to respond.


  • Michael

    I settled two WC cases one in 2012 the other in 2014 for $80,000.00 in lump sums. In the settlements the periodic payments for both cases were prorated from the date of injury until the date of settlement. I’ve recently applied for ssdi and was concerned about an offset. Since both lump sum payments were prorated over a period of time prior to my collecting or applying for any ssdi benefits would there still be an offset.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michael,

      If no months of Social Security entitlement overlap with the last workers comp prorated month, workers comp offset against Social Security Disability benefits will not apply.


  • Junior Malave

    I’m temporarily disabled and collecting workers comp for over years do to an injury (knee replacement) which continues to have medical problematic dilemmas. I applied for SSD over one year ago. Will I recieve retro-pay from SSD if I get approved?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Junior,

      If you are approved you will receiving benefits beginning with the later of the sixth full calendar month of disability as established by the Social Security Administration or twelve months before your application. Your back pay and ongoing benefits will be reduced for the worker compensation offset. You can receive SSDI and workers compensation equaling eighty percent of your current average earnings (as determined by Social Security) at time of disability. This amount is usually more than either benefit alone. How current average earnings is calculated varies. If you are approved, you can ask how Social Security determined your average.


  • Megan

    My husband was a land surveyor for 7 years. He had to quit his job due to what was eventually diagnosed as MS. Before that he held various jobs in construction. He is 34. Due to his illness, he has mental fog, dizziness, fatigue and numbness in his arms and hands. He also is on meds for muscle spasms and migraines. He has applied for ssdi. I would like for him to try for a part-time, nonphysical job. I’m not sure if he could even do that because of the meds he is on. Will social security deny him his claim if they think he can do non physical work, even though he hasn’t done anything like that in his past? If he tries for a job like that will he denied even if the job doesn’t work out? He applied in July. I’m getting nervous because we are almost out of money. I work too but don’t make enough to cover everything.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Megan,

      If your husband takes a part-time job that pays less than $1,070 gross per month and he is working at full capacity, his work probably won’t affect his disability claim. He might be a good candidate for vocational rehabilitation, which he could investigate through your state’s department of vocational rehabilitation. Also, if he is approved for Social Security Disability, he can sign up for Ticket to Work and receive paid rehabilitation services.


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