In order to be found disabled under Social Security's rules, one must meet a specific criteria. What happens over and over again, is that a person may believe he or she is disabled, but will be denied because he or she does not fit within the "rules."
Let's start with the most basic concept to being found disabled.
In order to be found disabled under Social Security disability rules, a person must have such a severe impairment or combination of impairments that he or she has been out of work for 12 months or more, will be expected to be out of work for 12 months or more, or has a condition that causes the claimant to be terminal.
Now, of course, it's not that easy.
First, the impairment (or combinations of impairments) the claimant is alleging, must "substantially" interfere with his or her ability to perform basic work activities. Such activities are, for example: sitting, standing, walking, kneeling, bending, using one's hands, reaching, concentrating for extended periods of time, getting along with others within a workplace, etc.
If your impairment(s) substantially limits your ability to perform one or more of these duties, then you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability.
But (and there's always a but), the inability to perform one or more of these daily tasks, also depends upon a claimant's age, education, and whether he or she has developed skills from prior work.
Let's give you some examples to help better explain.
Example Number 1: A claimant that is above the age of 55, has a high school education, and has worked unskilled work for the past 15 years before filing for Social Security disability benefits. If he or she is able to perform at the light or sedentary level, despite his or her impairments, then it is still likely he or she will be approved for disability benefits.
Example Number 2: If a claimant is over the age of 50, and is capable of performing at a sedentary level, and he or she has no transferable skills from prior work, then he or she may also be able to receive disability benefits.
Example Number 3: The same claimant, but now he or she is under the age of 50, and has the same impairments as either example 1 or 2. Now, he or she will be denied, because the claimant is under the age of 50, and still able to perform at the light or sedentary level despite his or her impairments.
So, as you can see, depending upon a person's age and past work history, he or she may receive disability benefits or may be denied.-There's much more going on than just determining if a person has an impairment that substantially interferes with his or her ability to perform basic work activities.
I'll end with a story of one of my claimants to help explain this process even further:
There was once a man named John. He had severe bipolar disorder. This impairment was so severe, he lost his family and was fired from his last three jobs. He was unable to work around others and could not interact with strangers, much less his own friends and family. He had radical mood swings on a daily and weekly basis even with medication.
On the surface, it would seem as though there would be no work available he could perform. He would have to work in isolation from others, and would also have to find a job that would accommodate him being gone from work a day or two a month due to his psychological condition. However, there was an actual job in which he could perform. He had a past history as a plumber's helper. The new job allowed him to work on his own and at his own pace so as to not agitate his condition. He was allowed to do so at this new job, and has maintained this job ever since. He was able to find the right dosage of medication to help his symptoms. Right before his hearing, he came to me and asked to cancel his case and attempt to get back to work.
So, as you can see, not only are there other criteria for determining if someone is disabled under Social Security's rules, but there may also be work within the national economy that would allow a person to work, while taking into consideration his or her impairment(s).
If you believe you need to file for Social Security disability, what you can take from all this, is to closely examine your own situation. Many people believe that just because they are unable to do what they have done in the past, that will not necessarily mean you will be approved for disability benefits.
We help claimant's throughout the United States fighting for their Social Security disability benefits. If you need to talk, feel free to contact our office at: (888) 780-9125.