If your medical condition has not progressed to the point
that it meets the requirements of one of the listed disorders,
you can still qualify for SSD by proving that your impairment
prevents you from working. Proof requires a highly individualized
determination that takes your medical condition, as well as
your age, education and work experience, into account.
Because no two cases are exactly alike, the proof is critical and unique to each case. For example:
A 52-year-old former tractor trailer driver with a sixth-grade education will be awarded SSD by proving that a medical disorder limits him to a sit-down job with little or no lifting.
A 34-year-old clerk-typist and high school graduate with exactly the same impairment will lose.
A 58-year-old machine operator with the same condition may win or lose, depending on an evaluation of his job skills presented by a vocational expert at a hearing before a Social Security judge.
Most SSD claims stand or fall on determinations like these. Most of the time, it is as important to carefully document relevant non-medical factors, such as education and work skills, as it is to prove the underlying medical disorder and the limitations associated with it.