Though the law has been historically based on common sense and logic, in
the arena of Social Security law,
disability is not easily defined. Common sense, in colloquial use, would define disabled
as being deprived of capability or effectiveness. In general terms, a
person is disabled if his or her physical disabilities are impaired.
HOWEVER, in Social Security law, the term "disability" is a term
of art, that is, what a person normally thinks of disabled will not be
applicable. The United States Congress has defined the term disability
as an inability "
to engage in 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 twelve months." 42. U.S.C Sections 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). This definition
applies to the
Social Security disability program (Title II of the Social Security Act) and the SSI disability program
(Title 16 of the SSA).
The definition continues by stating:
"An individual shall be determined to be under a disability only if
his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity
that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering
his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether
such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives or whether a
specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if applied
for work. For purposes of the proceeding sentence (with respect to any
individual), "work which exists in the national economy means work
which exists in significant numbers either in the region where such individual
lives or in several regions of the country."
42 U.S.C. Sections 423(d)(2)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(B). Any questions? That
definition is most certainly a mouthful and a potential cure for insomnia,
however, the Code gives us more information. A "physical or mental
impairment" is defined as "an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by
medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques."
42 U.S.C. Sections 423(d)(3) and 1382c(a)(3)(D).
Note: a person is
disabled if a drug addiction or alcoholism is a "contributing factor"
(to be discussed in a later blog entry) that is material to the Commissioner's
determination that the individual is disabled.
42 U.S.C. Sections 423(d)(2)(C) and 1382c(a)(3)(I). The Act, most importantly,
leaves it to the Commissioner of the Social Security Agency to develop
regulations relating to many of the questions that are unanswered or definitions
that are not very well defined by the Act.
If you think that you have a disability that renders you unable to work
and would like a free case evaluation then
contact our experienced Dallas Social Security Disability Attorneys today. Our
attorneys are well-versed in assisting clients in receiving the Social Security
benefits that they need.