Do I qualify as disabled?


Social Security defines a disability as having a condition severe enough to prevent one from working and earning a livable income (as defined by the federal government). There are several criteria to be met:

First, your condition must be severe. This is measured somewhat subjectively. A severe impairment is one that interferes with an individual’s activities of daily living, and often makes one unable to engage in work activity.

In children severity is measured by how the condition affects their ability to engage in “age-appropriate activities.” This is typically assessed by psychological testing, a review of the child’s schoolwork and progress reports, and upon conversations with their school instructors. Teacher questionnaires also offer insight as they document the child’s ability to perform age-related activities such as schoolwork and studying, as well as social functioning, concentration, attention, and persistence.

Second, a condition must last at least 12 consecutive months. If the condition resolves before one year, the claimant will receive a durational denial.

Third, a condition must be physically or mentally limiting, so much to the extent that it eliminates the claimant’s ability to return to any jobs held in the last 15 years. The condition must also be severe enough that the claimant cannot be expected to use their education and work skills to do another type of other work. Many claims are denied on the basis that the claimant can return to a previous job or do another job they haven’t done before. It is extremely important for claimants and their attorneys to understand this part of the process, and they must examine all avenues as to the transferability of their work skills and all possible methods of achieving a substantial gainful living.