When you apply for disability benefits, it’s important to know the criteria upon which the Social Security Administration (SSA) judges your claim. You want to go into the process with all of the facts so you can best prepare yourself for what’s to come as you move through the application process.

How Does Social Security Determine If I'm Disabled or Not

The Five-Step Sequential Evaluation
1. Is the applicant working above substantial gainful activity, or SGA, level?

For 2017, this level is $1950 per month. If you’re earning above this level, the SSA will not find you disabled. If you’re working less than this, the adjudicator proceeds to step two.

2. Is the applicant’s physical and/or mental condition severe?

Next, the agency considers the severity and duration of the impairment. The SSA believes the condition is severe if it interferes with basic work-related activities. In terms of duration, the agency deems your disability acceptable if the condition is expected to last for 12 months or result in death. If the applicant meets these requirements, the adjudicators moves onto step three.

3. Does the applicant’s medical condition either meet or equal the severity of a listing?

If the applicant has a condition that meets or equals one of the listing and meets the duration requirement, the SAA usually finds this person as disabled. These listings can be found here. Before moving to step four, the SSA assesses the applicant’s residual functional capacity.

4. Can the applicant complete past relevant work?

If the applicant retains physical and mental capacity to perform past relevant work, the government finds the person is not disabled. If there is no past relevant work, the adjudicators goes to step five.

5. Can the applicant make an adjustment to any other work?

If the applicant can make an adjustment to other work, the SSA finds this person not disabled. If this person cannot make this adjustment, the applicant is disabled.

It’s important to obtain an attorney to ensure that you have the correct evidence to prove your disability status. If you meet the above criteria, you should be able to receive your disability benefits. Make sure that you work with an attorney that has dealt with cases similar to yours before. This way, you have reassurance that this person will be able to get you the benefits you deserve.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your disability case!