5 Step Process to Determine Disability

What “Disabled” Means to the SSA

The Social Security Administration strictly defines “disability” as the following:

The inability to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) due to
A medically determinable mental or physical condition; and
Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

The Social Security Administration determines if you are disabled by using the following five step question process:

1. Are you working?

Although you aren’t prohibited from working while receiving disability, SSA must determine if you are engaging in SGA. A person with monthly earnings $1070 or greater will not be considered disabled in 2014. If you fit within the financial requirement, move to Step 2.

2. Is your condition too severe to work?

If your condition does not interfere with your basic work-related duties, you will not be found disabled. Again, your condition MUST prevent you from performing your basic work duties. If it does, move to Step 3.

3. Is your condition listed on the Compassionate Allowances or Quick Disability Determinations lists?

SSA uses these two lists to expedite the disability process by automatically determining any conditions listed therein as a disability and in turn approving your claim. If your condition is not found on these lists, move to Step 4.

4. Can you do the work you did previously?

If you have a severe condition, but not more severe or equal to a condition on the lists, SSA must determine if you are able to perform your past job duties and whether or not your condition interferes with those duties. If it does, move to Step 5. If not, your claim will be denied.

5. Can you do any other type of work?

SSA evaluates your job skills, age, education, and past work experience to determine whether you can adjust to other types of work. If they find your condition prevents you from doing other types of work, your claim will be approved. If they find you are able to do other types of work, your claim will be denied.

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