How does Social Security define “disability” for purposes of awarding benefits?

The Social Security regulations provide that a person is “under a disability” if he or she is unable “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 12 months.” Simply put, in order to be found “disabled” and eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must have a long-lasting, severe medical condition that prevents you from doing any type of gainful work. To see how this definition is applied in real-life situations, read Examples of who is and who is not disabled. The results may surprise you.

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