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How Does The Social Security Administration Decide SSDI and SSI Claims?

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Brief Explanation of Social Security Disability Case:

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five step sequential process (which means the SSA goes through each step in order) to determine if a claimant is eligible for disability benefits.


Step 1. Is the Claimant Engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity?

If you are not blind, are working and grossing $1,070 per month or more in 2014 (this amount is adjusted annually) you are considered engaged in substantial gainful activity and your Social Security disability claim will be denied no matter how severe your disabilities may be. If you grossed less per month than this threshold amount or are not working the SSA will proceed to Step 2.

Step 2. How Severe is the Claimant's Impairments?

If your medical and/or psychological conditions are considered severe which substantially impairs your ability to work (based on SSA doctors reviewing your medical records and determining your residual functional capacity) then the SSA will proceed to Step 3. If your impairments are not considered severe then your Social Security disability claim will be denied.

Step 3. Does the Claimant Meet the Listing of Impairments?

The Social Security Administration has an official list entitled the Listing of Impairments which lists most common impairments. If the claimant's condition(s) meets or equals the listing then the SSA presumes the claimant can not perform any type of substantial work. If a claimant meets or equals a listing then they will be considered disabled and will receive Social Security disability benefits (very few claimants meet this criteria). If the claimant does not meet a listing then the SSA will proceed to Step 4.

Step 4. Can the Claimant Do Their Past Work?

The SSA will decide if the disability claimant's impairments are severe enough (even though they did not meet a listing) to prevent them from working their past jobs (reviewing your past 15 years of work history, if applicable). If the SSA determines you can do your past work (even with your impairments) then your claim will be denied. If they decide you can not perform your past jobs due to your impairments then the SSA will proceed to Step 5.

Step 5. Can the Claimant Do Any Other Jobs?

If the SSA determines that there are other jobs in the national economy that you can transfer your job skills to and can perform the work with your impairments then your disability claim will be denied (this step is where the largest number of claimants are denied). If your impairments prevent you from performing other work then you will be considered disabled and will receive Social Security disability benefits.


If you have any questions about Social Security disability, you can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213, go to their website at www.ssa.gov or call The Nuebel Law Firm, P.A. at 407-703-5999 for a free consultation.

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