What Does It Mean If you Are Denied For Disability Because You can do Other Work?
Social Security uses an evaluation process for 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.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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