Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | 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 | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

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