My best advise to anyone applying for disability is "Don't Give Up!" You should learn that it takes great patience and perseverance to successfully obtain Social Security Disability benefits. It will help you to learn the following basics of Social Security Law.
The law defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a).
People often ask me if they can work part-time while applying for disability. Keeping the above definition in mind, I usually answer that it depends on whether they are earning more than what the Social Security Administration ("SSA") defines as substantial gainful activity ("SGA"). In 2015, a person earning more than $1090 (after subtracting impairment related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be earning SGA and therefore is not disabled. A blind individual can earn up to $1820 before being considered earning SGA. For more information click here.
There are 5 steps in the sequential disability evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). The 5 steps are as follows: (1) Are you performing SGA for 6 months? If yes, you are denied. If you are unable to earn at an SGA level for more than 3 or 4 months (2) Do you not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months? An impairment is "severe" when it "significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities." (3) Does your impairment(s) meet or medically equal a impairment listed in Appendix 1?