How Disability Is Defined By The SSA
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in North Carolina can be a very confusing process. One of the things that are most complicated is the conflicting versions and definitions of what qualifies as a disability. In many cases, a person will believe themselves to be disabled, and their doctor may also describe them as disabled, but the Social Security Administration will not view that person as disabled and will not award any benefits. This can be a disheartening experience, so the best way to be prepared is to know exactly how the Social Security Administration defines disability, and how you can know and prove that you meet that definition.
Loosely put, the Social Security Administration defines disability by your ability to work. The exact definition is: you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a medically determined physical or mental impairment(s) that is expected to result in death or last for a continuous period for over twelve months. Substantial gainful activity is a term used by the Social Security Administration to refer to work that is done for pay or profit, or even for the expectation of pay or profit if that profit was not realized. Basically, if you can do any kind of gainful work you likely will not meet the definition of disability put forth by the Social Security Administration.
However, if your impairment prevents you from finding work that you do now, have experience doing in the past, or could reasonably be expected to get hired to do based on past experience and education level, then you do meet the definition of disability and can likely receive benefits. Proving you are eligible for disability benefits in North Carolina is another matter. The Social Security Administration will want a full medical history with all related doctors’ notes, exams, images, and records. They will also want a detailed work history of at least your past twelve years of work. They will use these histories along with testimony from you and from their experts to determine if you can work or not and if you meet the definition of disabled as they define it.