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How Does Social Security Determine Whether a Person Is Disabled?

 Posted on June 17, 2021 in Social Security Disability

Collin County SSDI attorneyThose who suffer from health conditions that affect their ability to work may be able to receive disability benefits through Social Security. To qualify for Social Security disability, a person will need to demonstrate that they have a disabling condition that has affected their ability to earn enough income. When evaluating a disability claim, Social Security uses a specific process to determine whether an applicant’s condition is considered a disability. By understanding this process and working with an attorney to provide the proper evidence and documentation, a person can ensure that they will be able to receive the benefits they need.

The Five-Step Evaluation Process for Assessing Disability

After a person applies for Social Security disability benefits, their claim may be approved or denied. Following a denied claim, an applicant can appeal this decision, and an administrative hearing will be held in which their case will be reviewed by an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will use what is known as a “sequential evaluation” process to determine whether the person is disabled. This process includes five steps:

  1. Is the applicant currently working? To be disabled, a person must currently be earning income less than what is considered to be “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). For those who apply for disability in 2021, SGA is $1,310 per month, or $2,190 if a person is blind.

  2. Is the applicant’s condition severe? A person must be experiencing a physical or mental condition that interferes with their ability to perform work-related activities, and the condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in the person’s death.

  3. Is the condition included in the listing of impairments? Social Security maintains a list of health conditions that will cause a person to be considered disabled. If an applicant’s condition is included in this listing or is equivalent to a condition in the listing, they will be considered to be disabled. If this requirement is met, the evaluation process will end at this point, and a person will qualify for disability benefits.

  4. Can the applicant perform work they had done in the past? An ALJ will evaluate the applicant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), or their ability to perform sustained, regular work on a continuing basis. The ALJ will then determine whether the person’s RFC will allow them to perform work they had done in the past, and if they are able to perform this type of work, they will not be considered to be disabled.

  5. Can the applicant perform any other type of work? The ALJ will consider whether the applicant’s RFC will allow them to adjust to other types of work and obtain employment in jobs that are available. If the person would be able to find employment and maintain SGA, they will not be considered to be disabled.

Contact Our Dallas County Social Security Disability Attorneys

The requirements for proving that you are disabled can be very strict, and mistakes made during an application or appeal may cause Social Security disability benefits to be denied. The Law Offices of Coats & Todd can help you ensure that you will be able to receive the benefits you need and deserve. Contact our Collin County Social Security disability appeals lawyers at 972-671-9922 to arrange a free case evaluation.





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