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?”