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Whether your disability claim is for Supplemental Security Income benefits (commonly referred to as SSI) or Social Security Disability benefits (also known as SSD, SSDI, or DIB), your application will be evaluated under a five-step process.

Think you might qualify for benefits based on this process? Contact Scott to discuss whether disability is right for you.

Step 1: Are you working? If so, are you earning too much to be considered disabled?

In 2017, If you are working and earning $1,170 or more in gross monthly pay, you may be performing what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity.” If you are found to be performing substantial gainful activity, your claim will be denied. If you are not, then your case proceeds to the second step.

Step 2: Do you have a “severe” mental or physical impairment?

The word “severe” is in quotes for a reason. It does not mean horrific, life-threatening, or even “really, really bad.” Instead, a “severe” impairment is one that significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities – things such as standing, walking, sitting, lifting, seeing, hearing, understanding, carrying out instructions, etc. Your “severe” condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, a minimum of 12 continuous months. If you have a “severe” impairment, then your claim proceeds to step three.

Step 3: Do you have a condition that is so limiting that you can be found disabled without further proof?

This is almost like a “short cut” step for people with profound disabilities. The “Listing of Impairments” for adults is found at https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm. If you have an impairment that satisfies this criteria, coordination with your doctor is always helpful to ensure a favorable and timely result. If your claim is not awarded at this step, the evaluation proceeds to the fourth step.

Step 4: Can you perform your past work?

At this point, Social Security decides what you can and cannot do in a work environment. SSA then compares your capacity for work to jobs you had in the past 15 years to decide whether you can do that work. If it is determined that you can perform your past work, your claim will be denied. If you are found to be unable to do that work, then your case proceeds to the fifth and final step.

Step 5: Are there other jobs you can perform?

This final step takes into account your capacity for work, your age, education, and work experience to determine whether you are able to perform any other work. If you cannot perform other work, you will be found disabled.

Like anything there are exceptions the rules outlined above. If you are considering disability, contact Scott to discuss whether disability is right for you.

Scott M. Kolligian, Esq. has dedicated his entire legal career to helping individuals with disabilities obtain the benefits they deserve. If you are struggling with work, or if you are out of work due to a health condition or injury, contact Scott for your free consultation.