Social Security disability, or SSD, is a program established by the Social Security Administration to provide financial support to individuals who are injured or become ill and cannot work for at least 12 months. The criteria for qualifying is quite specific and complex, and claimants often feel lost in the maze of requirements and accompanying materials that need to be provided with the application. It is very important for anyone who needs help with applying or has been denied to work with a disability lawyer who specializes in this area of law.
A Disability Lawyer Discusses the Listing of Impairments
When you meet with your disability lawyer, undoubtedly your chief concern is whether your medical condition qualifies you for SSD benefits. The SSA has created the Listings of Impairments, which covers many, but by no means all, impairments for which applicants may qualify for benefits. The fact that the listings are not comprehensive is actually one of the main points upon which denials come about; for, if an impairment is not included, other criteria must be used to prove disability.
A Disability Attorney on the Sequential Evaluation Process
The SSA uses a sequential evaluation process as an alternative when an impairment is not included in the Listings. This process is comprised of five sequential steps, which means that if the applicant is found not to qualify at any level, the evaluation does not go forward. Your disability lawyer will review the evaluation to see where an appeal can be made if you have been denied. The five steps in the process, however, are as follows:
You are not working. Social Security disability is predicated on the fact that the claimant cannot work. So, if you are working, you will not qualify. The SSA refers to this work, however, as “substantial gainful activity” (SGA).
In addition to number one, you have an impairment that is both severe and medically determinable. By medically determinable, it is meant that the impairment can be measured through objective medical means. You cannot simply say you have a lot of pain.
Moreover, your impairment equals or meets one that is in the Listings. For example, you have a chronic cough, but it is not in the Listings. You would need to find a type of cough that is and show that yours equals or meets it
If you cannot show that your impairment equals or meets one in the listings, you must take into consideration your “residual functional capacity,” which is basically your ability to work at any substantial job (“past relevant work”) you have held in the past 15 years.
In addition, you can’t adjust to other work that is available taking into consideration your RFC age, education and work history.
Work with a Disability Attorney If You Need Assistance
If your claim is denied or you need help filling out your application, a disability lawyer can help. Call the Social Security Law Center at 1-866-772-5299 today.