The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a "five-step process" to
determine if you are disabled
. This process focuses primarily on your ability to work.
First, if you are employed and earn an average monthly income average of over $1,000 (in 2011), generally the SSA will not consider you disabled.
If you are not working, the second step is for the SSA to determine if your condition interferes with the basic work-related activities. If SSA finds your condition does not interfere with such activities, you are not considered disabled.
If your condition does interfere with your basic work-related activities, the third step is for the SSA to check their list of disabling conditions. If your condition is on the list, you are automatically considered disabled. If your condition is not on the list, the SSA must then determine if your condition is just as severe as conditions that do appear on the list. If your condition meets this requirement, the SSA will also find that you are disabled.
If your condition is not found to be as severe as medical conditions on the list, then the SSA will determine if your condition interferes with your ability to do the work you previously performed. If your condition does interfere with your ability to engage in your previous work, the SSA will attempt to ascertain whether you are able to adjust to some other type of work. The SSA uses a variety of factors in making this decision, including your work experience, medical condition, age, educational background and other skills you may have. If the SSA determines you cannot perform the work you engaged in previously or any other type of work, you will be considered disabled.
It is imperative that you provide the SSA with a full and accurate explanation of your medical conditions, and a detailed history of your previous job duties, as well as the ways your condition affected your ability to perform your duties. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can assist you with your claim and advocate on your behalf.