Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability – Part 5

In our final part of our 5 part series, we are discussing the process you must go through to be approved for social security disability benefits.  We’ve already discussed the first four steps, which address working, the severity of your impairment, if your medical condition meets or equals a listed impairment by the Social Security Administration, and whether you can perform your past work.  In this series, we will discuss step 5 of the sequential evaluation process which addresses if you can perform any other type of work.  The 5 step sequential evaluation process is noted below for reference:

  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 5

Step 5 of the sequential evaluation process analyzes whether you are able to adjust to other types of work.  The work must be of the type that exists in significant number in the national economy.  The analysis will factor in your past work, your age, remaining work capacity and education level.  If the SSA finds that you cannot adjust and take on other types of work, the SSA will likely find that you are disabled.  If you were denied at any step, please contact Sharry Law Office for a free case evaluation and discuss your appeal.

Evaluating Functional Equivalence In Childhood Disability

In children’s disability cases, if the child’s impairment is not severe enough to meet a Social Security “listing”, meaning an approval for disability benefits, then an assessment must be done to determine if the impairment functionally equals a listing.  For functional equivalence, the child must have one “extreme” or two “marked” limitations in the six domains of functioning. 

The six domains of functioning are:

  1. Acquiring and using information
  2. Attending and completing tasks
  3. Interacting and relating with others
  4. Moving about and manipulating objects
  5. Caring for oneself, and
  6. Health and physical well-being.

The evaluation of how functioning is affected will be done during all of the child’s activities; meaning activities done at home, at school, and in the community.   First, Social Security will identify which of the child’s activities are limited, and which domains are involved in those activities.  They will then determine whether the child’s impairment(s) could affect those domains and account for the limitations.  Second, Social Security will then rate the severity of the limitations in each affected domain(s).  If SSA finds one extreme limitation, or two marked limitations, the child will be approved for disability benefits.

Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability – Part 4

In part 4 of our 5 part series, we are discussing the process you must go through to be approved for social security disability benefits.  We’ve already discussed the first three steps, which address working, the severity of your impairment, and if your medical condition meets or equals a listed impairment by the Social Security Administration.  In this series, we will discuss step 4 of the sequential evaluation process which addresses if you can perform your past work.  The 5 step sequential evaluation process is noted below for reference:

  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 4

Step 4 of the sequential evaluation process evaluates your past relevant work.  Generally speaking, past relevant is described as work you performed in the last 15 years.  Only work that was performed at the SGA (substantial gainful activity) should be factored into your past relevant work.  In order to figure out whether you can perform past relevant work, the SSA will examine the physical and mental requirements of your former job in conjunction with your current residual functional capacity. If you are able to perform past relevant work, you will not be considered disabled for purposed of social security disability benefits.  If SSA decides that you can no longer perform your past job, your case will be evaluated at step 5 to determine if you can do any other type of work.  To simplify the analysis, take the least-taxing job you performed in the previous 15 years and argue as to why you can no longer do that job.

In the next series, we will discuss step 5, “Can you do any other type of work?”

Social Security Administration Adds to Compassionate Allowances List

SSA has announced twelve additional Compassionate Allowances, including several for cardiac patients.  The Compassionate Allowances process quickly identifies diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet SSA’s standard for disability benefits.

Impairments on SSA’s list of Compassionate Allowances are those that provide almost a 100% guarantee that the person will be found disabled.  Compassionate Allowances cases retain priority status on appeal and receive expedited processing.

The twelve new Compassionate Allowances conditions are:

  • Aortic Atresia
  • Eisenmenger Syndrome
  • Endomyocardial Fibrosis
  • Heart Transplant Graft Failure
  • Heart Transplant Wait List – 1A/1B
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Recipient
  • Mitral Valve Atresia
  • Primary Cardiac Amyloidosis
  • Pulmonary Atresia
  • Single Ventricle
  • Tricuspid Atresia

Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability – Part 3

In part 3 of our 5 part series, we are discussing the process you must go through to be approved for social security disability benefits.  We’ve already discussed the first two steps, which address working and the severity of your impairment.  In this series, we will discuss step 3 of the sequential evaluation process which addresses whether your medical condition meets or equals a listed impairment by the Social Security Administration.  The 5 step sequential evaluation process is noted below for reference:

  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 3

Quite simply, if your condition meets or equals a listed impairment, you will be awarded benefits.  So if your condition is not on the list, does that mean you will be denied?  Not necessarily.  If  your medical condition does not meet or equal one of the listed impairments, it means you must be evaluated under steps 4 and 5 to be awarded benefits.  Steps 4 and 5 address your prior work history and whether you could potentially transition to other types of work if applicable.

In the next series, we will discuss step 4, “Can you perform past work?”

Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability – Part 2

In the first part of this five part series, we discussed substantial gainful activity at step 1 of the sequential evaluation process and how working affects eligibility to social security disability.  In this series, we will discuss how the severity of your medical condition factors in to the eligibility process.

To recap, the Social Security Administration uses the five step sequential evaluation to determine eligibility.  If you fail at any step, your claim will be denied.

  • Step 1 – Are you currently working?
  • Step 2 – Is your condition severe?
  • Step 3 – Does your medical condition meet or equal a listed impairment?
  • Step 4 – Can you perform past work?
  • Step 5 – Can you do any other type of work?

Step 2

If  you are not working, or are working below the subtantial gainful activity level, you will pass step 1 to be evaluated at step 2.  At step 2, your condition must prevent you from performing basic work activities for at least twelve (12) months to qualify for activities.  If your condition will prevent you from working for less than a year, you will be denied.  Private short-term and long-term disability insurance benefits may be available in those situations.  The timing of your application may affect the outcome of your claim in some cases.  Therefore, it may be wise to consult with a disability attorney to determine when you should apply.

In the next series, we will discuss step 3, “Does your medical condition meet or equal a listed impairment?”

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?

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How Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability?

Am I Disabled?  That is the first question that must be addressed. To receive benefits under the Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) programs, you must have physical or mental health problems (or a combination of both) severe enough to keep you from working for at least one year.  The inability to get work, or go back to your old job, may not be enough to qualify under the Social Security definition of disability.  The test is whether you are capable of doing  jobs that exist in the economy in significant numbers.

Using a complex set of rules and regulations, the Social Security Administration will take into account a number of factors before deciding your case and awarding benefits for disability. Some factors include your age, work experience, training you’ve received, remaining ability to work and medical condition to name a few.  As you get older, Social Security’s regulations make it easier to be found disabled and possibly be approved for benefits.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities.  Both SSDI and SSI are administered by the Social Security Administration and are only available to individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria.

  • SSDI – SSDI pays benefits if you worked long enough and paid social security taxes
  • SSI – SSI pays benefits based on financial need

What is the definition that Social Security uses to determine if an individual is disabled?

         Under the Social Security Act, “disability” means “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”  Unfortunately, there is no set list of disease, injury or disability that Social Security uses to determine eligibility for benefits.  Social Security will make a decision based on the severity of the disability and how it affects the specific claimant.

Please call our office for questions regarding your claim or application or to schedule an initial consultation.