Do you think you are disabled?

By: Rangeley B. Chewning, Esquire


If you are considering applying for Social Security disability, there are some basic things that you should know. The Social Security Administration defines disability as:

  1. You can not do the work you did before
  2. You can not adjust to other work because of your medical conditions, AND
  3. Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.


This is a strict definition of disability. There are three ways that you can apply for disability. You can apply online at You can also apply over the phone by calling your local social security office. Lastly, you can make an appointment to apply in person. Before you apply, you need to gather all of your doctors’ names and information. You will also need a list of all of your past employers.

Social Security follows a five step process to determine if you are disabled. You must meet all five of the questions in the process to be approved for disability. The first question is: Are you working? If you are currently working, it is unlikely that you are disabled.

If you are not working, the second question is: Do you have a disability that meets a listing or a combination of disabilities that cause you to be unable to work? Social Security has created many lists of medical impairments, diseases, and diagnoses. These are called “listings.” Our office is familiar with the listings and can help determine if you meet a prescribed listing.

If you meet a listing or you have a combination of disabilities that qualify, Social Security will then determine the third question: “How severe is your disability?” This is why it is very important to have open and honest conversations with your doctors and medical providers. Always be very clear with them about the problems you are experiencing and how these problems interfere with your daily life. Many people answer “fine” when the doctor asks them how they are doing, when in reality they are from being fine.

If Social Security determines that your disability is severe, they will then move to question number four: “Can you do your past work?” This is why it is so important to provide an accurate history of your employment. You need to remember how many pounds you lifted, how long you had to stand, and what physical demands the job required from you. We will assist you in making sure that this employment history is complete.

If Social Security determines that you can not do your past work, they will then analyze the fifth and final question: Can you do ANY work? This is a very serious question, and it requires a detailed analysis. There are many jobs that are available in the United States and Social Security considers all of them. Many jobs are low skill and allow a person to sit and stand at their option. If you can do that job, you are not considered disabled. This is the step in the process where Social Security considers your age, education, and work. It is important that Social Security receives the right records and evidence so that they can properly evaluate your capacity to work.

If you have applied for Social Security, or are considering applying for Social Security Disability, I would love to speak with you. You can call our office at 843-667-0400, my cell phone at 843-992-8977 or you may email me at I meet with clients from all over the Pee Dee, as well as other areas in the state.