The Social Security Administration uses a specific definition for the word “disability”
Generally, when people say that you have a disability they mean that you have some sort restriction that affects some activities.
However, for purposes of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits, the definition is very specific about the limitations of disability.
The Social Security Administration defines “disability” in terms of the ability to work
The Social Security disability program bases its definition of disability on whether or not you can work.
The disability definition that is used for Social Security disability benefits is in the Code of Federal Regulations. The exact wording of the regulation involves other phrases that have their own special definitions, but a general translation from the legal terms is that a disability is an inability to work as a result of an impairment that has lasted or will last for 12 months or death.
The questions that the Social Security Administration asks to determine whether or not you are disabled
The Social Security Administration has a set process for deciding whether a person is sufficiently disabled to qualify for disability benefits.
That process uses five different steps. Each step is essentially a question that is used as part of the evaluation process. These steps, or questions, are:
- Are you working? If you are working then you do not qualify for disability benefits.
- Is your impairment severe and does it meet the duration requirement? If you pass this step you go on to the next one.
- Does your impairment match an impairment in the Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments”? If you pass this step then you qualify for disability benefits. If you do not pass this step then you go on to the next step.
- Even with your impairment, are you able to do one of your past jobs? If you cannot do any of your previous jobs then you go on to the next step.
- Even with your impairment, are you able to do any other work? If you cannot work at all then you qualify for disability benefits.
Predicting the results of the Social Security Administration’s evaluation of a disability is difficult
Even experienced Colorado disability lawyers find it difficult to predict with certainty how the Social Security Administration will rule. There is a large gray area with respect to disability impairments. Sometimes even though doctors may identify a condition as being disabling, the Social Security Administration may decide that the condition does not prevent the ability to work in some capacity.
Frequently, the only real way to tell how the Social Security Administration will rule is to pursue the case to appeal for an actual decision on the disability.
Get a Denver disability lawyer to help with your case
The Social Security Administration has technical and complex rules. Help yourself by getting an experienced Denver disability lawyer to represent you.
If you do not already have a Colorado Social Security disability lawyer representing you, contact us for assistance. Use the form on this page to describe your claim, or email or call our office.
Michael S. Krieger
Denver Social Security disability lawyer
165 S. Union Blvd. #310
Lakewood, CO 80228