Five Steps To Determine If You Qualify As Disabled
The Social Security Administration (SSA) follows a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine whether you are disabled and eligible for benefits. If it finds that you are or are not disabled at a certain step, then the determination is over. The SSA doesn’t go on to the next step.
At the Florida law firm of Smith, Feddeler & Smith, P.A., we can help you understand if you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you do, we can assist you with everything from filing the initial application to fighting against a denied claim. Let our lawyers put their 125 years of combined experience to work for you.
The five steps in the sequential evaluation process are:
- You are not engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (which essentially means you can’t make a living)
- You have a “severe” medically determinable impairment, which could be either a physical or mental condition
- Your impairment meets or “equals” one of the impairments described in the Social Security regulations known as the “Listing of Impairments”
- Considering your “residual functional capacity” (your current ability to function), you are unable to do your “past relevant work” (your old job)
- You cannot make an adjustment to other jobs that exist in significant numbers, considering your residual functional capacity, age, education and work experience.
Be careful about the terms identified by quotation marks above. These terms have precise meanings in the law, and these meanings are not necessarily the meanings you would expect. Our experienced lawyers can further explain the five steps to you in a free consultation.
But Wait — There Are Two Extra Requirements To Get Benefits
In addition, to be found disabled, you must meet the “duration requirement.” This means that your disability must last for 12 full months.
Plus, if you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have worked and paid enough Social Security taxes. For the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, you must meet certain income and asset requirements.
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