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How does Social Security determine if I am disabled?


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The Social Security Administration looks at different factors, many different factors in order to determine if you’re disabled. The first thing we’re going to look at are your earnings. Are you currently working and earning an income? If you are, and it’s over a certain level, which is called substantial gainful activity, that amount changes each year, but if you are earning over that amount, you’re automatically not disabled and they don’t go any further. If you’re earning some money but maybe not to the level of substantial gainful activity, it will still make it very difficult for you to get disability. The next step they go to, assuming that you’re not earning money, would be your impairments. And those impairments can be either physical or mental or a combination of both.

The next thing that they look at is your age, education and your past relevant work experience. Your past relevant work experience is contained of the 15 years prior to when your onset of disability commenced. So if you did something 20 years ago, that doesn’t count. So it’s just the last 15 years. Your age is a factor because if you are over 50 and the next level would be 55, for which the regulations change, it’s much easier to get qualified for social security disability under the grid system than it is if you’re a younger individual. They will also look to see if you meet a listing within the federal regulations. So there a lot of different factors that go into determining. It is not just your physician saying, “He’s disabled” or “she’s disabled and can’t work.”

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