Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions

How a Social Security Disability or SSI award is made?

Social Security disability benefits are awarded through a sequential disability evaluation process. Social Security uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine if an individual is disabled. If Social Security finds you are disabled or not disabled at any step, they make a decision, or determination, and do not go to the next step. The five steps are basically as follows:

1) Social Security determines if you are engaging in work activity that is considered to be substantial gainful activity. If you are performing work activity that is considered to be SGA, your disability claim will be denied at this point.

2) The second step is determining the severity of an individual's medical or mental impairment, or combination of medical and mental impairments. If you do not have a medically determinable impairment (evidenced by objective medical findings) that is severe and meets the durational requirements (has lasted twelve months or is expected to last twelve months) your disability claim will be denied.

3) Social Security considers the severity of your medically determinable impairment. If your impairment meets or equals the criteria set forth in an impairment listing and you meet the duration requirement, you will be found disabled.

4) Social Security evaluates your residual functional capacity (what you are able to do in spite of the limitations caused by your impairment) and your past work (types of work that your performed at an SGA level for three months or more). If Social Security determines you are able to do any of your past relevant work (relevant work being work performed during the prior 15 years) you are found not disabled.

5) If you are not able to do your past relevant work, Social Security must determine if there is any "other work" that you are able to perform considering your residual functional capacity, age, education, and work experience. If Social Security determines that you are not able to make an adjustment to other work your disability benefits will be awarded.

However, all of this is not really so complex. Because it simply boils down to this: if a claimant's condition is severe enough to have lasted 12 months, or severe enough that it will be thought to eventually last 12 months, and is also severe enough to prevent the claimant from working at one of their former jobs, or at some suitable type of other work, while earning a substantial and gainful income...they will be considered disabled and may be awarded Social Security disability benefits.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved

    FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions

    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    How to find out if approved for disability?
    How to File for SSI
    How long does it take to get a disability approval letter?
    Disability requirements and how to file in Pennsylvania
    What Happens When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application?
    Applying for disability, medical conditions
    How do you Apply for SSI?
    Social Security Disability, SSI, chiropractors, and evidence
    Bad Social Security Disability advice
    Social Security Disability SSI, drug and alcohol use and abuse
    What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?

    These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

    What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
    Disability for a mental condition
    Tips for Filing for disability
    Financial Help Filing For Disability
    Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
    Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
    Filing a disability application: the steps
    Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
    How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
    What makes you eligible to get disability?
    How to check my disability claim status?
    Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
    SSI disability Award Letter
    How long to get approved for disability?
    How to apply for disability benefits
    How long does disability back pay take?
    What are qualifications for getting disability?
    What medical conditions can you file disability for?
    Disability Lawyer help questions
    Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives