Definition of Disability
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
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
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
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.