For Oklahomans who are suffering from a condition, illness or disability and believe that they warrant Social Security disability benefits, the simplest factors in an approval or disapproval are often lost in the shuffle. Included in these matters is the five-step process that the Social Security Administration utilizes to determine whether the person meets the requirements. Knowing these is vital to a case, especially when the claimant is denied Social Security.
First, the SSA will ask the applicant if he or she is working. If the person is working and the earnings average more than a specific amount per month, he or she will not be viewed as disabled. The amount varies and is changed on an annual basis. For a person who is not working or the amount earned on average per month is equal or less than that amount, the SSA will then look at the medical condition. The medical condition must be "severe" for there to be an award of SSD benefits. By "severe," it must limit the person's ability to do basic work activities like standing, sitting walking and similar factors. This must last for at least 12 months. Without the condition being deemed severe, benefits cannot be granted. If it is deemed severe, the next step will be considered.
The impairment is required to equal one that is on the Listing of Impairments. The listings describe conditions that the SSA views as being of sufficient severity to keep the applicant from performing substantial gainful activity independent of their age, education and work experience. If the condition does not exactly meet one of the listings, if it is equal to one that is on the listings, the benefits can be approved. Next, the SSA will ask if the person can perform the same work that he or she did previously. If the person can do past work, they will not qualify. If it is not possible, step five will be considered.
Finally, it will be assessed as to whether the person can do any other kind of work. Simply because a person can no longer do the work from the past does not mean other types of work cannot be done. Age, education, prior work experience and skills that can be used for other work will be considered. A person who can do other kinds of work will not get benefits. Before applying and when appealing, it is wise to speak to an experienced Social Security disability attorney for advice and assistance.
Source: ssa.gov, "Disability Benefits -- How we make the decision, pages 7-8," accessed on May 29, 2017