• Christopher Le

Top 5 Steps that Determine Whether You Meet The Criteria For Social Security Disability

In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must qualify under the very strict guidelines of the Social Security Administration (SSA).The process has gotten better and easier over time and its easier to navigate through it to better understand whether you met the criteria before applying.


The Social Security Administration requires you to meet the strict qualifications and requirements under law. Its not enough that you're doctors say you are disabled, there are other elements that need to be met. After you submit your application for disability benefits, SSA's Disability Determination Services (DDS) will evaluate your claim or appeal to determine if you meet the SSA's definition of disability. Disability under SSA rules means that you must show the inability to perform gainful employment. The easiest way to put it is that you must show you can no longer work in any capacity due to your medical condition.


The following are the five elements the Social Security Administration takes into consideration in determining if you should receive disability benefits.


#1: Are You Continuing To Work Even After You've Filed for Disability?


The Social Security Disability (SSD) program is designed for those individuals who are no longer able to work or for those that cannot hold a full time position. Even if you are working, but your medical condition limits your ability to work full time hours, you may still be eligible to file for disability benefits. SSD provides monthly payments to those who are otherwise unable to fulfill their work duties due to their disabling condition. Therefore, if you are currently working and earning enough to support yourself, you likely will not qualify for disability. Even though you may have medical conditions that are disabling, if you are continuing to work and earning more than $1310 (for year 2021), you are over the income threshold to be able to qualify for disability. If you earning less than $1310 per month, you can still file and for disability benefits.

#2: How Severe Is Your Disabling Condition?

The next step in the process is determining if your medical condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. You must show that your medical condition “interferes with basic work related activities”. Disabled individuals are usually unable to work, or are unable to complete the daily tasks they normally would have prior to their disability. You must also be able to show that your medical condition is expected to last up to a year.


#3: Is Your Condition Recognized Under Social Security's Listing Of Impairments?

There are certain medical conditions that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability. Not many people meet this criteria set forth under SSA's listing of impairments ("Listing"). Even if you do not meet a "Listing", it does not mean you do not qualify for benefits. You will just need to prove that your residual functional capacity is severely limited, but we will discuss that step below.


Now regarding SSA's Listing of Impairments, it lists all of the major body systems that the Administration recognizes as being disabling. If your condition is listed in SSA’s Listing of Impairments, then you may get approved rather quickly and automatically. If your condition falls under the Listing, you do not have to go on to the fourth or fifth steps below.


#4: Are You Able To Perform Your Past Work?

The large majority of cases are determined by Step #4 and #5. If your condition does not fall under the Listing of Impairments, do not worry. That is not the only way to prove you are disabled. You will just need to work through the final two steps. In step # 4, you will need to show that your medical condition is severe enough to limit your ability to do your previous work. SSA will look at your work history in the last 15 years. If its determined that you cannot perform the past jobs due to your medical condition, then you move on to step # 5.


#5: Can You Do Any Other Kinds Of Work?

This last step is the toughest barrier to overcome. This is where many cases are won or lost. The final step for receiving Social Security Disability is proving you have the total inability to perform any and all work in the national economy. Even if you are unable to perform the work you used to do, you must also prove that you cannot do any other kinds of work. Even a job as simple as a Walmart greeter, you must show you cannot do.


SSA looks at many factors in determining if you qualify such as:

  • Your medical condition

  • Your age

  • Your education

  • Your past work experience

  • And whether you've acquired any skills in your past work that could transfer to any other kind of work

Its always best to speak with an attorney to determine the merits of your case. It can be discouraging and overwhelming when filing for social security disability but an attorney can best assess your chances of success. If you have any questions, please call me at 210-885-3408. I would be glad to help!


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