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Definition of Disability

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The Social Security law defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. To meet this definition, you must have a severe impairment, which makes you unable to do your previous work or any other substantial gainful activity which exists in the national economy.

To determine whether you are able to do any other work, The Social Security Administration will consider your residual functional capacity and your age, education and work experience.

The Social Security Administration will use this definition of disability if you are applying for a period of disability, or disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, or child's insurance benefits based on disability before age 22 or, with respect to disability benefits payable for months after December 1990, as a widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse.

There are different rules for determining disability for individuals who are statutorily blind. There are also different rules for determining disability for widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses for monthly benefits for months prior to January 1991.

Substantial Gainful Activity is defined as earning $900 or more per month.

(This sometimes confusing language is taken from the Code of Federal Regulations, 20CFR404.1505) If you have questions about the definition of disability, please contact our firm and we will be glad to discuss it with you.

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