Simply put, Social Security has a five step process for determining whether you should receive Social Security Disability Insurance.
Step 1: Are You Working While Applying for Social Security Disability? At the first step Social Security will consider your work activity. If you are working and make above $1,220 a month, you cannot qualify for disability. If you earn less than this or are not working, you may qualify under the program and can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Is Your Impairment Severe and Does Your Impairment Meet The Duration Requirement?
- “Severe Impairment”: At step two, SSA first determines whether you have a “severe” impairment. An impairment is “severe” if a doctor has diagnosed you with that impairment.
- Duration Requirement: Second, Social Security determines whether your impairment meets the durational requirements. An impairment meets the duration requirement if the impairment has lasted or is expected to last a year. In other words, your impairment must prevent you from working for at least a year to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.
If the impairment(s) are severe and meet the duration requirement, you will move to step three.
Step 3: Does Your Impairment Meet A Listing? SSA maintains a listing of medical requirements (“listings”) for impairments. If you match the medical criteria/requirements for your impairment, then you will be found to be disabled. If you do not match the requirements for your impairment, you move to the next step. Warning: Social Security purposely makes the impairment requirements very challenging to meet.
Step 4: Are You Able To Do The Work You Used To Do? Simply put, you are not disabled in the eyes of the SSA if you can do your past work. If your impairment prevents you from preforming your past work, then your move on to the final step.
Step 5: Can You Do Any Work? The final qualification for receiving Social Security Disability Insurance is an assessment of your ability to do any work. The SSA will take into account your medical condition, your age, your education, the type of past work experience you have, and any type of transferable skills that could follow you to a new position. If you are able to do other types of work, taking these things into consideration, you are not disabled.
Be aware that there are many complex rules and nuances that apply to each of these steps. Therefore, if you have applied or are considering applying for social security benefits, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney.