To be eligible for disability from Social Security, individuals must have previously worked jobs that were eligible for Social Security and have a medical condition that interferes with work. The condition must be "severe" and included in the agency's list of conditions. The agency does consider exceptional circumstances.
Some individuals are able to work despite a disability, and the Social Security Administration provides guidelines about the maximum amount of income permissible while receiving disability benefits. When determining eligibility for those not working, the agency takes into consideration whether the applicant's condition prevents them from doing the work they did prior to the condition's onset and whether it keeps them from doing any other type of work. The condition must be expected to last for at least a year or end in death.