The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process when deciding whether an individual’s medical condition will establish eligibility for disability benefits. At each of the five steps, if a claimant does not meet the specific requirements of that step, the claim for benefits may be denied. The five questions asked by Social Security are:
1. Are you currently employed?
If you are currently employed, and earning more than approximately $1,000 per month, it is unlikely that you will be considered to be disabled by Social Security.
2. Do you have a medical condition which is considered ‘severe’ by Social Security?
To be successful in a claim for Social Security disability benefits, you must have a medical condition, or combination of conditions, which are severe enough to prevent you from doing basic work-related activities. If your conditions do not prevent you from performing these activities, you will not be considered disabled by Social Security.
3. Is your medical condition recognized by the Social Security?
Certain medical conditions are considered by Social Security to be so severe that they automatically qualify an applicant for disability benefits. To view this list of conditions, go to www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/listing-impairments. If your condition is not on the list, Social Security will review your medical records to determine whether your condition is equal in severity to a condition on the list.
4. Are you able to perform your previous work?
If Social Security determines that your medical condition is severe, but not equal in severity to a condition on their list, they will then evaluate the type of work you did previously, and will make a determination about whether you are able to return to that type of work.
5. Are you able to perform other types of work?
If you are no longer able to perform the functions of your past jobs, Social Security will make a determination about whether you are able to adjust to other types of work. In making this determination, they will consider your age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have from your previous work. If Social Security determines that you can adjust to other types of work, your claim for disability benefits will be denied.
Having an experienced attorney to assist you in the Social Security application process can make a big difference in the final outcome of your claim. Our law firm specializes in representing Mainers in their claims for Social Security Disability benefits. We have successfully represented over 4,000 Mainers in their claims for Social Security Disability benefits.
For more information, please call us at 1-800-772-4624.