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How is the decision for approving or denying SSD benefits made?

Sometimes the basics of receiving Social Security Disability benefits can be the most confusing aspect of the entire process. Obviously, the requirements must be met. But before moving forward with a claim for SSD benefits, there are certain questions that will be asked by the SSA when making the determination. Knowing what they are and how to prove that the SSD benefits are warranted is key to the entire application.

The employment status will be important. If the applicant is working and earns more than a certain amount per month, the SSA will not view the person as disabled. The amount changes on an annual basis. For those who are not working or earn the current amount the SSA uses or less, the application will move on to the next step: whether the medical condition is considered "severe." The medical condition must be a significant impediment to being able to perform basic activities related to work. These include being able to stand, sit, lift, walk and remember for a minimum of 12 months. If this is not met, there will not be an approval for benefits.

Next, the impairment must meet one illness, condition or injury that is on the list of impairments - alternatively referred to as the listings. On the listings, medical issues that are thought to be of sufficient severity for Social Security disability are described. An individual condition or combination of conditions can warrant benefits. Once this is met, the benefits will likely be approved. If not, the next step will be undertaken. For step four, the SSA will ask if the person can perform work that was done before. If he or she cannot, the case will move to step five. With step five, the SSA will ask if the applicant can do any other kind of work. Several factors including age, education, prior work experience and skills will be considered. If the person cannot do other kinds of work, then the application will likely be approved.

For those who are suffering from an illness, condition or injury that is stopping them from being able to work, Social Security disability is an alternative to provide benefits and help them make ends meet for as long as they are having these problems. For assistance with a claim or an appeal, a lawyer experienced in Social Security Disability can help.

Source: ssa.gov, "Disability Benefits -- How we make the decision, pages 9-10," accessed on April 17, 2017

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