What Does Disability Mean for Social Security?

abstract background with different disabilities such as blindness, mental and hearing

What Does Disability Meanfor Social Security?


Disability means different things in different programs. How a person identifies themselves with a disability can be very different than how Social Security defines “disability”. This definition becomes even more important when someone transitions from childhood benefits to adulthood benefits.

Childhood Disability

Social Security considers a child to have a disability if they have a physical or mental condition that seriously limits their activities and is expected to last for at least 1 year or end in death.

Childhood disability is based on a physical or mental condition.


Adulthood Disability

Social Security’s definition of disability changes when a child turns 18 years old. Even though the condition may not change, Social Security might determine that the person no longer has a disability. This can be super tough to understand.

Social Security considers an adult to have a disability if their physical or mental condition is severe enough so that it limits them from working at a specific level. Like in childhood, the condition must be expected to last at least a year or end in death.

Adult disability is determined based on the level someone can work.





Help with NavigatingChanges Between Childhood and Adulthood


Remember, if you or your child need help with navigating some of the decisions around Social Security’s changes between childhood and adulthood, reviewing information received from Social Security, or understanding how working impacts benefits, contact a benefits specialist to answer your questions.