How disability is determined:

Published: May 22, 2005  |  Source: ssa.gov
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Social Security uses a step-by-step process involving five questions: Are you working? If you are and your earnings average more than $700 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. Is your condition severe?

Your impairments must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. Is your condition found in the list of disabling impairments? Social Security maintains a list of impairments for each of the major body systems that are so severe they automatically mean you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, it has to decide if it is of equal severity to an Impairment on the list. If it is, your claim is approved. If it is not, go to the next step. Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe, but not at the same or equal severity as an impairment on the list, then Social Security must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did in the last 15 years.

If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, your claim will be considered further. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the last 15 years, we then look to see if you can do any other type of work. Social Security considers your age, education, past work experience and transferable skills, and reviews the job demands of occupations as determined by the Department of Labor. If you cannot do any other kind of work, your claim will be approved. If you can, your claim will be denied.