Subpart P—Determining Disability and Blindness

Authority: Secs. 202, 205(a)–(b) and (d)–(h), 216(i), 221(a) and (h)–(j), 222(c), 223, 225, and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 402, 405(a)–(b) and (d)–(h), 416(i), 421(a) and (h)–(j), 422(c), 423, 425, and 902(a)(5)); sec. 211(b), Pub. L. 104–193, 110 Stat. 2105, 2189; sec. 202, Pub. L. 108–203, 118 Stat. 509 (42 U.S.C. 902 note).

Source: 45 FR 55584, Aug. 20, 1980, unless otherwise noted.


§ 404.1501. Scope of subpart.

In order for you to become entitled to any benefits based upon disability or blindness or to have a period of disability established, you must be disabled or blind as defined in title II of the Social Security Act. This subpart explains how we determine whether you are disabled or blind. We discuss a period of disability in subpart D of this part. We have organized the rules in the following way.

(a) We define general terms, then discuss who makes our disability determinations and state that disability determinations made under other programs are not binding on our determinations.

(b) We explain the term disability and note some of the major factors that are considered in determining whether you are disabled in §§ 404.1505 through 404.1510.

(c) Sections 404.1512 through 404.1518 contain our rules on evidence. We explain your responsibilities for submitting evidence of your impairment, state what we consider to be acceptable sources of medical evidence, and describe what information should be included in medical reports.

(d) Our general rules on evaluating disability if you are filing a new application are stated in §§ 404.1520 through 404.1523. We describe the steps that we go through and the order in which they are considered.

(e) Our rules on medical considerations are found in §§ 404.1525 through 404.1530. We explain in these rules—

(1) The purpose of the Listing of Impairments found in appendix 1 of this subpart and how to use it;

(2) What we mean by the term medical equivalence and how we determine medical equivalence;

(3) The effect of a conclusion by your physician that you are disabled;

(4) What we mean by symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings;

(5) How we evaluate pain and other symptoms; and

(6) The effect on your benefits if you fail to follow treatment that is expected to restore your ability to work, and how we apply the rule.

(f) In §§ 404.1545 through 404.1546 we explain what we mean by the term residual functional capacity, state when an assessment of residual functional capacity is required, and who may make it.

(g) Our rules on vocational considerations are in §§ 404.1560 through 404.1569a. We explain in these rules—

(1) When we must consider vocational factors along with the medical evidence;

(2) How we use our residual functional capacity assessment to determine if you can still do your past relevant work or other work;

(3) How we consider the vocational factors of age, education, and work experience;

(4) What we mean by “work which exists in the national economy”;

(5) How we consider the exertional, nonexertional, and skill requirements of work, and when we will consider the limitations or restrictions that result from your impairment(s) and related symptoms to be exertional, nonexertional, or a combination of both; and

(6) How we use the Medical-Vocational Guidelines in appendix 2 of this subpart.

(h) Our rules on substantial gainful activity are found in §§ 404.1571 through 404.1574. These explain what we mean by substantial gainful activity and how we evaluate your work activity.

(i) In §§ 404.1577, 404.1578, and 404.1579, we explain the special rules covering disability for widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses for monthly benefits payable for months prior to January 1991, and in §§ 404.1581 through 404.1587 we discuss disability due to blindness.

(j) Our rules on when disability continues and stops are contained in § 404.1579 and §§ 404.1588 through 404.1598. We explain what your responsibilities are in telling us of any events that may cause a change in your disability status, when you may have a trial work period, and when we will review to see if you are still disabled. We also explain how we consider the issue of medical improvement (and the exceptions to medical improvement) in deciding whether you are still disabled.

[45 FR 55584, Aug. 20, 1980, as amended at 50 FR 50126, Dec. 6, 1985; 56 FR 57941, Nov. 14, 1991; 57 FR 30120, July 8, 1992; 68 FR 51161, Aug. 26, 2003]