Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability?

As a disability attorney, I hear this question all the time.  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.  All disability cases must be reviewed by the Social Security Administration using the five-step sequential evaluation process to determine if a person is disabled.  Only after a thorough assessment will a claimant be awarded disability benefits.  The five steps are:

  1. Are you currently working?  Does your impairment prevent you from performing substantial gainful activity?
  2. Is your condition severe?
  3. Does your medical condition meet or equal a listed impairment?
  4. Can you perform your past work?
  5. Can you do any other type of work?

Step 1: 

Substantial Gainful Activity – Generally speaking, if you are working and your gross earnings are at or above the SGA level (currently $1,010) per month, you may be disqualified for benefits.  SSA, however, will allow you to deduct medical expenses from your gross earnings if those expenses assist you in being able to work.  If you are working part-time, it may make sense to review your earnings and work history to determine if you are at the SGA level.  If you are not denied at Step 1, your case is next evaluated at Step 2.

In the next series, we will discuss Step 2, “Is your medical condition severe?”