How the SSA Determines if You are Disabled
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step process to evaluate applications for Social Security Disability benefits (SSD) in order determine which applicants meet the administrations strict standards for disability benefits.
If you have been denied the disability benefits you need, contact one of our trusted Social Security Disability attorneys in Phoenix for a free consultation. We will help you appeal your claim and get the benefits you need.
Substantial Gainful Activity
The first question the SSA will look to answer from your application is are you able to perform substantial gainful activity? What this means is that you must not be able to perform substantial work. Your monthly income also should not exceed $1,090.
If you are working and bringing in more than the stated amount, your application will immediately be denied as a technical denial, meaning you do not meet the non-medical requirements for disability benefits.
You must provide the SSA with medical documentation that provides evidence of your disability and demonstrates that your condition is so severe that it prevents you from performing basic work-related activities.
SSA Blue Book of Listings
The SSA will evaluate your condition based on a Blue Book of Listings, which lists a variety of disabling impairments. If your condition is not listed, the SSA will have to evaluate if your condition is equal to the severity of a medical condition that is on the list.
Some conditions are so severe that they automatically meet the disability requirements and will be approved for benefits. These conditions are considered Compassionate Allowances, and can include leukemia and certain types of cancer.
Residual Functional Capacity
If your condition does not meet the level of severity of one of the listed impairments, the SSA will evaluate if your disability interferes with your ability to do the type of work you did before you became disabled.
A residual functional capacity assessment will evaluate the level of work you are able to perform.
If you are not able to perform the work you did previously, the SSA must then determine if you are able to adjust to other work. Through the use of the medical-vocational grid, the SSA will consider your medical condition, your age, level of education, past work experience and transferable skills. If it is determined that you cannot adjust to work, your claim for disability benefits will be approved.
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