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The Definition of "Disability" for Social Security

Social Security considers a person disabled if he or she cannot work for 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 that person can return to work he or she has done in the past. To determine this (and the next step), Social Security considers how the 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 ability to make adjustments to other work. Social Security assumes that people who are 50 years old will have a more difficult time adjusting to other work than people under 50 years of age. At 55 years old, it assumes an even greater difficulty adjusting to other types of work. This means if you are 50 years or older and have significant medical conditions you will have a greater chance of success, because once a person is 50 years or older, he or she no longer must prove an inability to do all types of work.

Can a Disabled Child Get Benefits?

Yes, a child can receive SSI benefits if he or she is disabled. The disability lawyers at Jarvis & Modun have represented many children making SSI claims. The disability analysis is a little bit different for children. Social Security does not consider whether the child can do past work or other work. However, it does consider whether the child is working; whether he or she has a severe medical condition or conditions; whether the medical conditions meet or equal the childhood medical listings; and whether the conditions are functionally equivalent to the listings. If you believe that your child may be entitled to SSI because of a disability, give us a call at (802) 540-1030 for a free consultation.

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 north eastern New York in their disability claims. We have experience representing claimants with numerous types of disabling conditions. Some of these include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Autism and spectrum disorders
  • Back injuries
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Brain injuries
  • Cancers
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Claire Marie Tooth disease
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Crohns’ disease and colitis
  • CRPS and RSD
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Hearing impairments
  • Heart disease
  • Hip injuries
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Kidney disease
  • Knee injuries
  • Learning disabilities
  • Liver disease
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease and post Lyme syndrome
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myelopathy
  • Neuropathies
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Schizophrenia
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Rheumatoid and inflammatory arthritis
  • Vascular disease
  • Vision impairments
  • Von Hippel–Lindau disease
  • If you have a severe medical condition that is preventing you from working, chances are that Jarvis & Modun has represented other clients with the same or a similar condition. Many of these conditions have special rules that apply specifically to them. We know the rules and we know how these conditions affect your 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 SSDI and SSI claims. At Jarvis & Modun we work with your doctors, psychologists, and therapists to give Social Security a complete picture of your medical conditions and how they affect your life and ability to work. Some claimants believe that it is enough to simply have their doctors say that they are disabled. This is not true. Social Security does not consider statements from doctors saying that a patient is “disabled” or cannot work. What Social Security needs to see from your doctors are specific and convincing statements about how your medical conditions affects your functional capacity and why. At Jarvis & Modun we know how medical conditions are likely to affect your ability to work, and we know the right questions to ask your doctors to bring out the type of medical evidence that Social Security needs to see. If your doctor believes that you are disabled, let Jarvis & Modun ask the right questions and get the right kind of evidence to prove that you are disabled. By and large, cases are won because of good and convincing medical evidence.