How Does SSA Decide if I am Disabled?

Kayla Moreland , May 19, 2015

Social Security follows a multi-step evaluation process. They will gather medical records from your doctors and obtain hospital records and test results. SSA may choose to have you examined by a doctor or psychologist. To determine if you meet the definition of disability, SSA will ask the following questions:

1) Are you working? If so, your claim will be denied. If not, proceed to next question.

2) Do you have an impairment or combination of impairments which significantly effects work related functions such as standing, walking, lifting, hearing, seeing, concentration, attention to task, attendance, and understanding instructions? SSA will also consider if your impairments have lasted or are expected to last for at least 12 months. If not, your claim will be denied. If yes, proceed to next question.

3) Is your condition so severe as to qualify for disability without further consideration? SSA has a list of impairments which are considered to be totally disabling. If your impairment meets all the elements of the listed impairment, you will be determined to be disabled. If not, proceed to next question.

4) Do your impairments restrict your work capacity so that you cannot return to any of your past relevant work? SSA considers your past relevant work to be all jobs you performed in the past 15 years. If you are found to be capable of returning to one or more of your past jobs, your claim will be denied. If SSA agrees you cannot return to your past work, proceed to next question.

5) Do your impairments restrict your work capacity so that you are unable to adjust to other work which exists in significant numbers in the national economy? SSA does not have to find you work or determine that you could be hired. SSA only determines whether you would be capable of performing and sustaining work if given the opportunity. In determining whether you are capable of other work, SSA will consider your age, education, past work performed, and acquired skills.

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