Social Security defines the word disability as follows: you are disabled if you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable condition that has lasted or is expected to last 12 consecutive months or result in death.
Let’s break down this definition.
“Unable to engage in substantial gainful activity” – this means that your medical or mental health issue must prevent you from performing the duties of a simple, entry-level job 8 hours a day, 5 days per week.
Another way to look at this is to ask: could I perform the duties of a ticket taker at a movie theater? Could I perform the duties of a job where I sit at a table packing small items all day long? Could I serve as a surveillance system monitor, looking at screens all day?
Notice that Social Security is not asking whether you can perform the duties of your past work. The question – can you do any work at all reliably? Bear in mind that SSA’s focus is on the activities you are doing. So if you can handle volunteer work 8 hours a day, you do not meet the definition.
“Medically determinable condition/conditions” – this means that SSA will require medical records and test results from one or more doctors. Remember that we have to prove you are disabled – you cannot walk into a Social Security office and say “I am disabled, sign me up for disability.”
Generally the strongest cases are ones where you have long term, on-going treatment records from one or more doctors, supportive diagnostic test results (like an MRI or CT scan) and a written statement from your doctor identifying limitations. In our office we use “functional capacity forms” to help the doctor translate your medical issues into specific work limitations.
“12 consecutive months” – Social Security disability is not a short term disability program. Your condition must be serious enough that you have missed or are likely to miss at least a full year of work.
So there you have it. If you think that your medical condition meets SSA’s definition of disability, I’d love to talk to you. I accept all SSD cases using a “no fee unless we win contract” and I get paid only if I collect past due benefits for you.
If you are an honest, hard working person who simply cannot keep a job because of a medical or mental health condition, I encourage you to call me at 770-393-4985.