Warning symbol

We have taken steps to try to ensure safety through the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more here.


"TELL THEM YOU MEAN BUSINESS" | 1-866-900-7078

What Factors Does the Social Security Administration Use to Determine If I’m Disabled?

Every application for Social Security disability benefits will be reviewed individually on its own merits, and many factors can be considered when determining eligibility.

However, the Social Security Administration does use a 5-step process as a basic framework for determining eligibility for benefits. Of course, interpretations of these guidelines may vary, so each case may be treated differently.

Here are the five questions that the Social Security Administration asks when determining benefits:

Are you working?

If you are working, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, depending on how much you are making. Generally speaking, if you average more than $1,010 per month in income, you will not be considered disabled for the purposes of receiving benefits. Income limits will vary according to other factors, so you may be able to make more or less than this and be considered disabled.

Is your condition “severe?”

“Severe” is a relative term, and it is defined by how much your disability impedes your ability to do the work to which you are accustomed to performing. If you are unable to perform basic work-related duties, you may be considered disabled for the purposes of receiving Social Security disability benefits.

elderly person resting their head on their hands and wooden caneIs your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions that are considered “so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled.” Such conditions include ALS, multiple myeloma, and being on a list to receive a liver transplant. Mental disorders are also included.

If you condition is not on the extensive list, it will be evaluated based on whether it is comparable to a condition on the list.

Can you do the work you did previously?

A construction worker who loses the ability to walk may not be able to work anymore, while a writer who loses the ability to walk may still be able to work. The construction worker may be considered disabled, while the writer may not since the writer would be able to do the work performed previously. Your disability will be considered in relation to the type of work you have been accustomed to doing, as well as your age and your education.

Can you do any other type of work?

Even if you can’t do the type of work you are accustomed to doing, you may be able to do other work. If that is the case, you may not be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration will consider your age, education, work history and skills to determine whether you may be able to do another type of work.

Every case will be evaluated on its own merits, and application of these guidelines is open for interpretation. In fact, a majority of applications for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied.

If your application for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, a North Carolina Social Security disability lawyer may be able to help you appeal the decision and get the benefits that you may deserve. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out how one of our Social Security benefits lawyers may be able to help you.