You must meet five separate criteria to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

How To Prove That You Are Disabled

If you are unable to work due to a disability, you may be considering applying for Social Security Disability (SSD).  Benefits are available for people with qualifying disabilities who are unable to work because of their disability.  While this may seem like a simple standard, the reality is that it can be very difficult to successfully file for SSD benefits.

A skilled social security disability attorney can help you apply for benefits, representing you at hearings and appealing claims that have been denied. At the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, our attorneys have substantial experience handling SSD claims — and we never charge our clients a fee unless we are able to get benefits for them.

Proving that you have a disability is the first step in the SSD process.  It is important to know that just because you may be considered or view yourself as disabled in the “real world,” it does not mean that you will be deemed disabled for purposes of SSD benefits.  There is a 5 step process used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine if an applicant is disabled.  Read on to learn more about how you can prove that you are disabled.

Are You Engaged In Substantial Gainful Activity?

The first question asked by the SSA is whether or not you are currently earning income — and if so, how much.  If you consistently earn more than $1,040 each month through work (as opposed to passive income, such as rent from properties that you own), you will automatically be considered “not disabled” by SSA.  To qualify for SSD benefits, you must not have “substantial gainful activity” (income of $1,040 per month) for at least one year prior to applying.

Do You Have  A Severe, Medically Determinable Impairment?

If you are not engaged in substantial gainful activity, the SSA will then look to see if you have a condition that has been diagnosed by a medical professional. A medically determinable impairment means that you have a physical or mental health condition that has been diagnosed by a doctor.  To qualify as severe, it must result in some functional limitations that affect your ability to work.  This means that you must have a (1) diagnosed condition that (2) limits your ability to work to qualify under this standard.

Does Your Impairment Meet Or Equal a Listing?

This next step involves comparing your claimed impairment to a list maintained by SSA of conditions that automatically qualify as disabilities. The SSA can either find that you have one of the listed conditions, or that your condition equals a listing.  It is relatively rare for people to be found disabled under this criteria because they are very detailed and require strong evidence of impairment; instead, most people qualify under the next two standards. If your condition is not a “listing,” then you should not panic; you may still be able to receive SSD benefits.

Are You Able To Perform Your “Past Relevant Work”?

If your condition is not listed or not equal to a listing, then the SSA will look back to the past 15 years of your work history.  The SSA will then determine if you can still perform any of that work at the level of substantial gainful activity (or for an income of $1,040 per month or more) based on the analysis of a Social Security judge or a vocational expert.  This evaluation will look at how your former work was generally performed and your physical or psychological limitations to determine if you are capable of performing this work with your condition.  If the answer is yes, then you will not be considered disabled.

Are You Able to Perform Any Other Jobs?

If you are not capable of doing your past relevant work, then the SSA will look to see if you are capable of doing other work — regardless of whether or not it is work you want to do.  The SSA will analyze available jobs to determine if you are capable of performing them with your limitations.  This analysis of available jobs does not necessarily mean that an employer is hiring, or that you would be able to obtain the job; it is just an evaluation of whether or not you would be able to take on any full-time work.  If you can demonstrate that you are not capable of being employed full-time due to your physical and/or mental health limitations, then you will likely qualify for disability.

If you are considering applying for SSD benefits, contact the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker today at 800-333-0000 or  We are skilled at helping clients navigate these complex filings, and we never charge a fee unless we succeed in obtaining benefits for you.