Social Security says you are disabled if:
(1) your medical impairments prevent you from performing any job you’ve done in the past 15 years; and
(2) there aren’t many other jobs you are capable of doing, considering your age, education and work experience.
In determining whether there aren’t many other jobs you could do, the Social Security Administration (SSA) follows some general rules and guidelines. The main question is: how does your disability directly limit your ability to move around in the manner that most jobs require? For example, most jobs require (to varying degrees) the physical ability to work with your hands and the ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, and bend.
In general, it is hardest to prove a disability if you are under the age of 50. In that age category, you must prove that you are incapable of having a sedentary job, one in which you can stay seated the whole day or alternate between standing and sitting throughout the workday. Note that there is a difference between being capable of such physical demands and being actually hired for a position like this. The SSA will look at your physical abilities and limitations, not the likelihood of you getting a particular job or type of job.
If you are over the age of 50, the rules for determining disability are slightly more favorable to you. If you are age 50 to 54, generally you need to prove that you are incapable of doing “light work,” which means you can’t do work that requires you to stand for most of the day and lift objects that weigh less than 20 pounds. So you can still be found disabled in this age range even if you can do a “desk job” where you sit all day long.
The disability rules are even more favorable to you if you are over the age of 55. In that age range, you must prove that you are incapable of doing “medium work,” which is work requiring that you stand for most of the day and that often requires you to lift objects that weigh anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds.
Your disability lawyer will prove what you are capable of and incapable of doing in a work environment through your medical evidence and your testimony in front of the judge at your hearing.
For more information, order your complimentary copy of my book, The Unofficial Guide to Social Security Disability Claims by clicking on the picture to the right.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help.