Social Security Disability
The most important thing to remember if you are applying for Social Security disability benefits is that most people are denied at the initial application stage, including many people with legitimate claims. If you have a physical or mental condition that keeps you from being able to work, you should not give up. More than half of claimants who appeal their initial denial until they are given a hearing in front of a judge are approved for benefits. An experienced First Coast Social Security disability lawyer can increase these chances even further.
When evaluating your application for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration uses a five-step process.
First, are you doing “substantial gainful activity”? If you are working and making more than a certain amount, you do not qualify for benefits. After all, you are telling the SSA that you are unable to work because of your disability. If you are currently working, this would seem to contradict your claim.
Second, is your condition “severe,” and can it be established through medical diagnostic techniques? This step is not as difficult as it may sound. The SSA considers an impairment to be severe if it limits your ability to do basic work activities. You do not need to be bedridden or totally unable to do anything for your impairment to be severe.
Third, is your impairment listed in the SSA’s “Listing of Impairments”? If so, and if its severity meets or equals a listing, you will be approved for benefits as long as your condition has lasted or is expected to last more than 12 months. You do not need to go on to steps four and five. If you do not have a listed impairment, you may still be approved for benefits if you meet steps four and five.
Fourth, can you return to “past relevant work”? In other words, can you return to the easiest job you have done in the past 15 years? The Social Security Administration will not look at whether you would actually be hired for such a job. They will merely consider whether you are physically and mentally able to perform the tasks of the job.
Finally, can you, considering your age, education, and work experience, perform any job that exists in significant numbers in the national economy? If not, you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security regulations can be complex and counterintuitive, which may be why so many claims are erroneously denied. A First Coast Social Security disability attorney can help you determine what you must prove to the Social Security Administration and the best way to present the facts of your claim. For a free evaluation, please contact John Fagan.