The rules for determining disability apply most directly to impairments that limit your physical ability to stand, sit, walk, lift, bend or work with your hands. Mental disabilities/impairments are more complicated. This information I found was written by an attorney who has dealt with several disability cases and knows the ins and outs so to speak. One myth is that a lot of people think that you have to be permanently disabled in order to apply for and receive SSDI. The truth is you only have to prove that you are disabled for at least 12 months.
Another myth is that you have to be totally disabled in the sense that you are unable to perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the economy. This doesn’t mean that you have to be unable to do anything. There are very few people who go before an Administrative Law Judge who cannot do anything at all.
One way to determine disability is to start by trying to figure out what you can do. Once that is figured out, SSDI will determine whether or not any jobs within your physical and/or mental capacity exist in significant numbers in the economy. Also taken into consideration is your age, education and work experience. As you will see below, the older you are the easier it is to get approved which I feel is not totally fair. Just because someone is older it does not mean that they can do less than someone who is younger. My husband and I are a perfect example of this. My husband is 58, I am 36. He has had several heart attacks, open heart surgery and only has about 40% use of his heart. He can work circles around me. When he tires, he knows that he can go lie down and when he gets up he will be refreshed. Genetic makeup on health issues does not have age boundaries.
IF YOU ARE UNDER AGE 50:
The general rule is that you have to prove that you can’t do a desk job. You have to prove that even though you probably wouldn’t ever be hired for a desk job. If you have a lot of work skills, it can make your case even more difficult.
IF YOU ARE AGE 50 – 54:
The general rule is that you have to prove that you cannot do light work. This would be work involving being on your feet most of the day and lifting up to 20 pounds. Even though you might still be able to work a desk job or a sit down job, you can still be found disabled.
IF YOU ARE AGE 55 +:
Now it gets even easier. The general rule is that you have to prove that you cannot do medium work. “Medium” work is considered work involving being on your feet for most of the day, frequently lifting 25 pounds, and occasionally up to 50 pounds. Here again, you may be capable of doing light work but still be found disabled.