How the SSA Determines Disability

The standard the SSA uses to determine whether a claimant is disabled is complex and intricate and may seem illogical. A Philadelphia disability lawyer can help you through this technical and confusing process.

You may think that if you are unable to find a job because of your medical condition, then you are disabled. However, a disability determination is not based on your actual inability to work.

Disability is based on a hypothetical determination. The SSA determines, based on your symptoms and limitations, whether you would hypothetically be able to do any jobs, not whether an employer would actually hire you.

In the most serious cases, the medical records alone are enough to lead to a determination that you are disabled. However, in most cases you will have to prove two things:

  • Due to your medical condition, you are unable to perform any job you’ve had in the past 15 years; and
  • Considering your age, education, and work experience, you can perform very few other jobs.

With respect to the first factor, think about the easiest job you’ve had in the past 15 years. To be considered disabled, you have to establish that you can no longer do that easy job. You have to prove this even if you’re confident you’d never be hired for that job again, and even if the job no longer exists.

The second factor, that considering your age, education, and work experience, you’re unable to do many other jobs, is even thornier and illogical. You have to prove that you are not able to do jobs that, in any event, you’d never actually be hired for.

You do not have to prove that you are “totally and permanently disabled.” This requirement comes from workers’ compensation cases, and does not apply in Social Security cases. For Social Security benefits you have to be disabled for 12 full months.
For the best advice about your disability claim, contact the experienced Philadelphia disability lawyers of Silver & Silver.