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Five Steps to Determine Your Eligibility to Receive Disability Benefits

Scott Monge

Just because you know you are disabled and unable to work, it does not mean that the Social Security Administration is going to feel the same. Since their bureaucrats are obviously unable to feel what you are feeling, they follow a very meticulous five-step process to determine whether you meet their definition of "disabled."

When you apply for Social Security disability, it is vital that you include absolutely anything and everything that is required to back up your claim. Here's how your Social Security Administration (SSA) caseworkers will evaluate your application:

  1. First, they will look to see if you are currently working. If you are working and your monthly earnings average more than $1,040 (for 2013), they will usually not consider you to be disabled. If you are earning less than that amount, or not working at all, they will move on to the next step.
  2. Next, the SSA will determine if your condition is considered to be "severe." This means that your condition interferes with basic work-related activities. If your condition does not interfere with employment, you will not be considered disabled.
  3. Next, they will consult their official list of disabling conditions. If your condition is on their list, it is considered severe enough to automatically qualify you as disabled. Good news: even if your specific condition is not on the list, this does not mean you are automatically disqualified. The SSA will determine if your condition could be considered of equal severity to another medical issue on the list. If they think it is equal, you will be considered disabled. If they cannot verify this, they will move on to step four to continue to determine eligibility.
  4. Further evaluation of your medical condition. Even if your condition is not on the list of disabling conditions (or considered equal to a condition on the list), it still may be severe enough to prevent you from doing the work you did previously. If it does prevent you from being able to do the work you did previously, they will move on to step five. If not, you will not be eligible to receive disability benefits.
  5. Evaluating your employability. Since the SSA has determined you're unable to do the work you did previously, your caseworkers will try to figure out if you can adjust to other work. If they do not think you can do any other work, you will be approved for disability benefits.

Now that you know what the Social Security Administration is looking for, you need to make sure your application proves your disability properly. If your application has been denied, or you need assistance making sure you file a proper application, call the Accident & Disability Attorneys of Monge and Associates at (800) 860-8021 for a free consultation.

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