How is disability evaluated?

Social Security determines if an individual is disabled by answering the following five questions:

  1. Are you doing substantial gainful work?
    If you perform any activity which results in your earning more than $500 per month before taxes, you will generally be denied regardless of your medical condition.

  2. Is your medical impairment severe, and does it meet the 12 month requirement? 
    If your impairment or if the total effect of multiple impairments does not significantly limit your physical or mental ability to perform basic work you will be denied.

  3. Does your impairment meet or equal the Listing of Impairments? 
    This listing identifies impairments which are severe enough to prevent a person from doing substantial gainful work.

  4. Can you perform relevant work you have done in the past? 
    Relevant past work is work done successfully within the last 15 years.

  5. Can you perform any other work? 
    Just as this states, if there is work that you could do, that exists within the national economy, regardless of whether it exists in your immediate area, whether there are any job openings, or whether you would be hired if you applied for the job, you will be denied.