Social Security Disability benefits provide support to people who cannot work because they suffer from disabling conditions. However, as Berwyn Social Security lawyers know, qualifying for benefits can be challenging even for people with highly debilitating conditions. In some cases, people with severe impairments even have their claims denied. This is because Social Security uses an unusual and somewhat exclusive definition of disability.
Social Security only considers physical or psychological impairments disabling if they meet set medical standards. A disabling impairment must have a medically verifiable basis. In other words, objective evidence must point to some physiological or psychological factor that causes the disability. The condition also must be expected to prevent the victim from working for at least 12 months. Short-term conditions are not eligible for SSD benefits, no matter how debilitating they prove.
Social Security’s “Blue Book” of impairments contains lists of medical conditions that frequently meet these criteria. If a person suffers from a listed condition and fulfills related requirements, the condition qualifies as disabling. In these cases, as Berwyn Social Security lawyers could explain, the condition is found disabling based exclusively on medical evidence.
In all other cases, Social Security evaluates how a specific condition restricts a person’s ability to work gainfully. If work is not feasible, given the person’s symptoms and functional limitations, the condition may qualify as disabling.
Social Security uses two measures to judge whether people can work despite a potentially disabling physical or mental conditions. First, Social Security checks whether the person is currently engaging in “substantial gainful activity.” For individuals who aren’t blind, this is work with monthly income greater than $1,090. If a person can perform SGA, Social Security will not consider the person’s condition disabling.
If a person is not performing substantial work, Social Security assesses whether the person could resume past work or take up new work. To do this, Social Security evaluates various personal factors. As most Berwyn Social Security lawyers can verify, these including the following variables:
- Extent of education
- Work experience
- Job-related skills
- Functional restrictions
Based on these factors, Social Security determines what level of a work a person can perform. If a person can perform the level of work he or she performed previously, the person is not considered disabled.
If a person cannot return to any past jobs, Social Security evaluates whether other forms of employment are available. Claims examiners use a set of medical-vocational guidelines to determine whether a person can perform or learn new jobs. If a person’s unique background and limitations effectively preclude employment, the person’s condition may be considered disabling.