How Does Social Security Evaluate My Disability Claim?

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If you have a disability that prevents you from working, you can file a disability claim to get social security disability benefits. These benefits offer you compensation for being unable to work and earn for yourself. They are also immensely helpful if you have temporary disability, letting you recover without worrying about making ends meet.
You can apply for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, SSA has stringent requirements which must be met in order to qualify for these benefits. Many disability claims simply get rejected because they don’t consider or meet these requirements. This is why it is important to consider these requirements before you file your claim. In general SSA has a five-step process which is used to evaluate all disability claims. Each step involves a different set of requirements against which your claim is evaluated.

Five Phases of Disability Claim Evaluation

A five-phase approach is used to evaluate all social security disability claims. These five steps are sequential. This means that you quality from one step to another only if you meet the requirements of the earlier step.
The first step evaluates the non-medical criteria of your claim. In the second step, the severity of your impairment is determined. The third step matches your disability with an existing list of medical conditions. In the fourth step, your present impairment is matched with your past work abilities. Finally, if you satisfy SSA requirements in all previous steps, SSA determines your present work abilities.
A more detailed breakdown of each step of the evaluation process is given below.

Step 1: Evaluating Your Financial Standing

The very first step in evaluating a disability claim is to see the financial standing of the applicant. Every year, SSA determines a figure of monthly earnings. If you are currently getting a monthly earning above this figure, your claim will be denied. For 2019, this figure is $1,220. So if your monthly earnings are above $1,220 in 2019, you can’t qualify for disability benefits. SSA also looks into the assets and resources you have. If your assets and resources are above $2,000, your claim will likely be rejected.

Step 2: The Severity of the Impairment

In this step, SSA determines how severe your impairment is. This task is generally undertaken by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) which considers many facts. DDS classifies a disability as serious if it impairs you from walking, standing, sitting, lifting and performing other chores for at least 12 months. If DDS determines that your disability meets this definition, your application proceeds to step 3.

Step 3: Matching your Impairment With the SSA List of Impairments

In the third step, your impairment is matched with an existing Listing of Impairments maintained by SSA. This is an extensive list in which SSA has defines various disabilities for different human body systems. If your disability matches a disability on this list, your claim is accepted and you qualify for disability benefits. If your disability is unique and not listed on the listing, your claim proceeds to step 4.

Step 4: Matching Your Present Work Capacity With Past Work

During step 4, your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is determined. RFC is basically the amount and nature of work you can still perform despite your disability. Once your RFC is determined, an SSA adjudicator will check your past work activities. This is done to shortlist your Past Relevant Work. This is the work you have performed for at least a specified period anytime in the 15 years preceding your disability. Finally, the adjudicator matches your RFC with your Past Relevant Work. If, despite your disability, you are still able to perform a job you previously performed, your claim will be denied.

Step 5: Matching Your Work Capacity With Other Work Options

In the final step, the SSA adjudicator checks if you can perform any other relevant work with your existing work capacity. In so doing, a number of factors are considered. These include your age, education, past work experience, medical conditions and any work skills you can still exercise. If SSA finds that there is suitable work that you can still perform, your claim is denied. If that is not the case, your claim is accepted and you quality for disability benefits.

Why Hire a Disability Attorney in Greenville SC?

Social security disability benefits help you through a temporary or long-term disability. However, you must do the due diligence before you file a claim or it will be rejected. A qualified social security disability attorney in Greenville SC can help you prepare a solid claim. Here at J. Robert Surface Attorney at Law, we are very well acquainted with the requirements and evaluation process of a disability claim. Our attorneys help you meet the criterion at each step of the application. Contact us today for free consultation on your disability claim and our attorneys will personally discuss your case with you.