What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
What Does It Mean If you Are Denied For Disability Because You can do Other Work?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Social Security uses an evaluation process that is sequential in nature and it involves:
1. An evaluation of your medical impairment or impairments and their severity
2. How they prevent you from performing at any of your past work or how they prevent you from doing any other kind of work that you might be qualified to do when your age, education, work skills, and residual functional capacity are considered.
The sequential evaluation process involves five steps and you may be found eligible for benefits from the third step through the fifth step. The first step is just a determination as to whether you are working and if the work you are doing is substantial gainful activity.
Substantial gainful activity is simply a monthly earnings amount determined by Social Security to be self-supporting and each year the amount changes. If you are not working, or you working under the SGA limit, then the disability examiner must move to step number two.
The second step simply involves a determination as to whether or not you have a medically determinable mental or physical condition. Disability examiners establish this through your medical records, or through examinations performed by physicians or mental health professionals who are paid by Social Security to provide a status of your medical condition. If the disability examiner determines that you do have a disabling condition, they must determine the severity of the condition and how it limits your ability to perform SGA.
Step three: does the claimant have an an impairment that meets or equals a "listing". Social Security has an impairment-listing book that involves impairments of all human body systems. The impairment listings themselves contain the specific criteria and limitations needed to meet the severity requirements of Social Security disability. Meaning, if you meet or equal the impairment listing that addresses your medical or mental condition, you may be approved for disability. Disability examiners only proceed to steps four and five if you do not have an impairment that meets or equals the severity requirements of an impairment listing.
Step four specifically addresses your ability to perform any of your past work when your residual functional capacity is considered. Past work for the purposes of Social Security disability evaluations includes any job that you have performed in the past 15 years for which you earned SGA and that you worked at for three months or more. If the disability examiner determines that you can do a past job, your disability claim will be denied at this level. However, if they determine that you are unable to do any of your past work, they must consider "other work".
Step five is the final step of the sequential evaluation process and it involves a determination as to whether or not you are able to perform other types of work (work you have never performed) when your education, age, residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite of the limitations imposed upon you by your disabling condition), and the transferability of your job skills are considered. If they determine you are able to perform some other type of work, your disability claim will be denied. Of course, if they determine that you are not able to do any other type of work, your disability claim will be approved through a medical vocational disability allowance.
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Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials