Your symptoms are a critical factor
Your symptoms — pain, fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, shortness of breath, etc. — are what keep you from working. Symptoms are what make you disabled.
How severe must your symptoms be?
The severity step of the sequential evaluation process initially required that you have a medically determinable impairment that imposed more than minor limitations on your ability to work. The symptom regulation added the additional requirement that your medically determinable impairment could cause your symptoms.
The symptom regulation also addressed the issue of how the adjudicator evaluates symptoms when trying to figure out if your impairment is severe.
Your subjective symptoms must be considered in determining whether an otherwise medically determinable impairment significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529(d)(1). SSR 96-3p provides: “If the adjudicator finds that such symptoms cause a limitation or restriction having more than a minimal effect on an individual’s ability to do basic work activities, the adjudicator must find that the impairment(s) is severe and proceed to the next step in the process even if the objective medical evidence would not in itself establish that the impairment(s) is severe.”
Close cases will be resolved in your favor.