If you seek Social Security disability benefits, you will likely be asked to complete a work history report and undergo a medical examination. These two evaluations will determine if you meet the SSA’s medical-vocational guidelines for disability.

Continue reading to know what are SSA medical-vocational guidelines, how it determines disability and the benefits one can get. 

What Are SSA Medical-Vocational Guidelines?

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has developed medical-vocational guidelines to help ensure that eligible individuals receive accurate and appropriate information about Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSD and SSI are public benefits that can help disabled adults and seniors live independently and afford basic needs.

How Does the Medical-Vocational Grid Determine Disability?

The SSA uses a set of Medical-Vocational Guidelines, also known as the “Grid,” to determine whether an individual is disabled. It checks whether an individual can perform any type of work in the national economy, given their limitations. 

If an individual’s medical condition is not listed in the SSA’s impairment listings, the SSA will refer to the grid to determine whether the individual is disabled.

To determine whether an individual has a disability, the grid uses four factors:

1. Independence

Independence is how well an individual can do things on his or her own. An individual is independent if he or she can do everything on the grid without help.

2. Basic Abilities

Basic abilities are the things that most people can do without too much difficulty. An individual has basic abilities if he or she can do at least one activity from level 1 without trouble.

3. Active Life

An active life is how long an individual can do things before becoming tired. An individual has an active life if he or she can do at least one activity from level 2 for at least 10 minutes.

What Are the Benefits You Can Get?

1. Cardiovascular Conditions

 The primary type of benefit is Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This non-means-tested benefit is paid to help with the extra costs associated with a long-term health condition or disability.

DLA comprises two components, the care component and the mobility component. The care component is paid at the lower or middle rate, depending on the level of care needed. The mobility component is delivered at a lower or higher rate, depending on the level of mobility needs.

2. Cancer

There are some different benefits that disabled people can claim if they have cancer. These include attendance allowance, disability living allowance, personal independence payment, employment and support allowance, and industrial injuries disablement benefit.

3. Back Surgeries

There are several disability benefits for back injuries, depending on the severity of the damage. For example, if you have a herniated disc, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If your back injury is severe enough that you can no longer work, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you are a veteran, you may qualify for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


The SSA Medical-Vocational Guidelines are an essential tool to help determine an individual’s eligibility for disability benefits. However, this is just one option, and other paths may better suit you. Always consult with an adviser to find the best fit for your unique situation.

Avard Law is ready to help if you’re looking for the best-rated disability attorneys throughout South Florida. If you have been denied disability benefits because your SSDI or SSI claim was denied, they will know exactly what you need to do. Call them now and get started on your claim right away!