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What Does It Mean to Be Disabled?

The Definition of “Disability” for Social Security

Social Security considers a person disabled if he or she cannot engage in substantial gainful activity for a period of at least 12 months because of one or more medical conditions. To determine whether a person is disabled, Social Security uses the following 5-step process called the “sequential analysis”.

  1. First, it considers whether the person is working.
  2. Next, it considers whether a person has a severe medical condition (or conditions) that has lasted or can be expected to last at least 12 months, (or is expected to result in death.)
  3. Next, it considers whether the medical conditions are so severe that they meet or equal a “listing” level condition. Listing level conditions are medical conditions so severe that Social Security presumes them to be disabling without considering how they impact a person’s ability to work.
  4. If a person is not disabled because of a listing level condition, Social Security must then determine whether a person can return to work he or she has done in the past. To determine this (and the next step), Social Security considers how a person’s medical impairments affect his or her ability to engage in work-related functions such as sitting, standing, lifting, bending, concentrating, and working with people.
  5. Finally, if a person cannot return to past work , Social Security must determine whether he or she can return to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy, considering the person’s functional capacity, age, education, and vocational background.

How Does a Person’s Age Affect a Claim?

Age can be an important factor in disability claims. As a person gets older, Social Security changes its presumptions about a person’s the ability to make adjustments to other work. Social Security considers that people 50 years and older have a more difficult time adjusting to other work than people under 50 years of age. At 55 years old, it presumed an even greater difficulty adjusting to other types of work. This means if you are 50 years or older and have significant medical conditions – especially physical ones – you will have a greater chance of success, because once a claimant is 50 years or older, her or she no longer need not prove an inability to do all types of jobs.

How Jarvis & Modun Can Help Prove That You are Disabled

The lawyers at Jarvis & Modun have 15 years of experience representing disabled people in Vermont, New Hamshire, and northeastern New York in their disability claims. We have experience representing claimants in numerous types of disabling conditions. Some of these include:

  • Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Shoulder injuriesCAJ2410
  • Hip injuries
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Vascular disease
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Crohns’ disease and colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathies
  • Rheumatoid and inflammatory arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism
  • Lyme disease and post Lyme syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • CRPS and RSD
  • Cancers
  • Brain injuries
  • Major depressionCAJ2411
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Autism and Asperger’s syndrome
  • Hearing impairments
  • Vision impairments
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Migraines and headaches

If you have a severe medical condition that prevents you from working, chances are Jarvis & Modun has represented other clients with the same the same or a similar condition. Many of these conditions have special rules that apply to them. We know the rules and we know how these conditions affect our clients’ ability to work.

The Importance of Medical Evidence

Medical evidence and particularly any medical opinions given by your treating doctor or psychologist about your functional capacity are critically important to all Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income claims. Jarvis & Modun works with your doctors, psychologists, and therapists to give Social Security a complete picture of your medical conditionals and how they affect your ability to work. Some people believe it is enough to simply have their doctors call them disabled or say that they cannot work. This is not true. Social Security does not consider statements from a doctor saying that a patient is “disabled” or cannot work. What Social Security needs from your doctors is specific and convincing evidence about how your medical conditions affect your functional capacity and why. Jarvis & Modun knows how medical conditions likely affect your ability to work, and we know the right questions to ask your doctors that will elicit the type of medical evidence needed to prove disability. If your doctor believes you are disabled, let Jarvis & Modun ask them the right questions and get the right kind of evidence from them. By and large, cases are won because of good and convincing medical evidence.