What does it take to prove to Social Security that you are disabled?
Today’s infographic helps clear the confusion about the five step sequential evaluation used by Social Security to determine disability.
To see how it works, click on this visual aid to walk through the Social Security Disability evaluation process.
Social Security’s main concern is whether you’re able to work in a full time capacity in any kind of employment. As the infographic shows, the purpose of Social Security’s disability evaluation is to enable the SSA to reach the proven conclusion that:
- You are disabled through medical evidence alone, or
- You are disabled through a combination of medical and vocational factors.
But as you may already know, being disabled and proving it to the SSA is easier said than done.
How Does the 5 Step Sequential Process Work?
Social Security Disability is determined through a series of five steps. Each step is a question geared to determine the significance and measure of your impairment, as it affects your ability to work full time.
It is a sequential process, meaning that if at any step you are determined either disabled or not disabled, the process stops and disability is either awarded or denied.
Following the infographic, the five steps of Social Security’s disability evaluation are:
- Are you gainfully employed?If you currently work for pay or profit, the answer is “Yes” and you cannot be considered disabled.If the answer is “No” you will move on to Step 2.
Step 2 – This is a 2-part question:
- Is your condition severe, rendering you unable to do basic
work-related activities?If the answer is “No” your claim will be denied.If the answer is “Yes” you must answer the 2nd part of Step 2.
- Will your impairment last 12 months, or result in death?If the answer is “No” you cannot be considered disabled.If the answer if “Yes” you will move on to Step 3.
- Does your condition satisfy all the medical criteria of an impairment defined in the SSA Listing of Impairments?If the answer is “Yes” you automatically qualify according to medical factors to receive disability benefits.If the answer is “No” you move on to Step 4.
- Are you able to do the type of work you used to do?If the answer is “Yes” the SSA will not consider you disabled.If the answer is “No” you will move on to Step 5.
- Are you able to perform any other generally available work?If the answer is “Yes” you will not be considered disabled.If the answer is “No” you will be considered disabled according to vocational
In Summary: There are two ways to a finding of Social Security disability:
- As the claimant, you must prove that you are medically disabled –
the evaluation process ends at Step 3;- or -You must show that you are disabled through the combination of medical and vocational factors – All other requirements of the evaluation must be met through Step 5.
If You’ve Been Denied Disability, How Can You Make Your Case?
I’m attorney Marc Whitehead, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law by the National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy.
Give me a call at 800-562-9830 and find out exactly how we can help you with your Social Security disability claim.
Every disability claim has its own set of special circumstances that influence the outcome. There are also exceptions to the Social Security Disability evaluation process. When you are up against Social Security regulations and the complicated appeals process, you need an attorney behind you with the experience and skills to deal with the system and win the benefits you deserve.
Hear what past clients have to say about working with Marc Whitehead.