It’s apparent to every individual who decides to file for social security disability or SSI disability that an applicant must have an impairment of some kind, either physical or mental in nature, or a combination of impairments (that may be physical, mental, or both). Furthermore, the great majority of applicants for SSD and SSI benefits realize that the strength of an adult’s claim will hinge on the extent to which their ability to engage in work activity will be affected. However, few disability claimants typically have any concrete idea as to how the social security administration, through its use of judges and claims examiners, actually makes the determination as to whether or not a claimant can work. The answer is actually fairly simple. Disability adjudicators, the individuals who make decisions on claims (judges and examiners) evaluate a claimant’s medical records to ascertain if their impairment is severe. The records are also evaluated in an attempt to learn how the claimant’s condition functionally limits them and interferes with their ability to perform work activity. By rating a person’s current abilities and limitations, and then comparing this rating to what was required in the jobs previously held by the claimant, social security can determine whether or not a return to past work is possible. Social security also uses the claimant’s work history information and their medical information to determine if the claimant might be found capable of performing some other type of work, assuming they cannot return to their past work. However, one overriding factor in this process is whether or not the claimant worked and received earnings (or is currently working and receiving earnings) at the substantial gainful activity level. As this segment explains, SGA is a monthly earnings limit that cannot be exceeded by anyone filing for disability or receiving disability benefits. The amount is indexed to the cost of living and, therefore, does change annually.