There is a five-step process in which to determine whether or not a person is considered to be disabled under Social Security's rules. Understand, these are much more complicated than what I am about to list, so it is always advisable to seek an attorney's assistance. But, this should at least help you get started.
1. Are you working right now? If you are not blind and you are making more than $1,090.00 each month as an individual, then you will receive a technical denial of your disability claim. So, if you are currently working, you need to make sure you stay under this amount each month or you will be considered to be engaging in what Social Security deems "Substantial Gainful Activity."
2. Do you have a severe impairment(s)? This is often debatable as to how severe (or moderate) your condition may be. However, for arguments sake, let's just say your condition is severe. If it is only moderate, then it would not keep you from engaging in basic work activities and you would then be denied benefits. Therefore, your medical condition must be severe. By the way, Social Security determines whether or not your condition is severe through medical records. So always try and have up to date and complete medical file.
3. Does your condition equal a definition Social Security provides for your type of impairment? In other words, does your illness/condition equal a medical listing Social Security uses to determine if you are in fact disabled? Let me tell you right now, this is very difficult to do. If you do meet a listing for your impairment, then you will be approved for disability benefits. If not, we keep going to steps 4 and 5.
4. Can you do the work you have done for the past 15 years? You need to think back about all the jobs you have performed over the last 15 years. If you can return to one of those jobs (or that kind of work), then you will be denied benefits. But, for arguments sake, let's just say you cannot do the work you once did.
5. Can you adjust to any other kind of work? If you can, depending on your age, education, and work skills that you have acquired through the years, then you will be denied at this final stage of determining whether or not you are eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.
Again, all of these steps have multiple issues involved. If you have at least read the minimal requirements and you believe you may qualify, it might be best to speak with an experienced Social Security disability attorney to further evaluate your case.