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The 5 Step Disability Determination Process

A balance scale beside a wheelchair.

Living with a disability can significantly impact your life, making everyday tasks challenging and work responsibilities impossible. Many disabled individuals require financial assistance to manage health and living expenses. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits offer crucial support, but securing these benefits can be difficult.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a rigorous evaluation process. This process is designed to ensure that only those truly in need receive financial assistance. However, it can be overwhelming to applicants who file legitimate claims. Between complicated legal and medical language, strict deadlines, and understanding eligibility criteria, it’s easy to overlook many critical aspects of the filing process.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of filing a successful claim is to work with a disability attorney. When you need reliable Social Security law services, you can trust O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group.

We can help you understand what the 5 steps of a disability determination are, and how to file appropriately. With over 29 years of experience helping disabled individuals seek SSD, you can rely on us to walk you through every step of the claims process.

Understanding the Disability Review Process

Understanding the SSA’s 5 step sequential evaluation process is crucial for anyone applying for Social Security Disability. Below, we break down the steps clearly, highlighting the importance of each phase.

1. Are You Working?

First, the SSA checks to see if you’re currently working and earning above a certain threshold. Disability benefits are only awarded to individuals unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If you earn above the designated income threshold, the SSA may not consider you disabled.

2. Assessing the Severity of Your Condition

Your medical condition must limit your ability to perform basic work-related activities. A combination of several minor conditions can also qualify for disability benefits if together they significantly restrict your ability to perform SGA.

Your condition must also prevent you from working for a continuous period of at least 12 months. Your severity determination will hinge on supportive medical evidence and potentially non-medical evidence. This may include test results, doctor’s notes, imaging results, treatment protocols and outcomes, testimonials from coworkers or family members, etc.

3. Reviewing Listed Medical Conditions

The SSA’s Blue Book contains medical listings that are considered qualifying impairments. The SSA will use the Blue Book to determine whether your condition meets specific eligibility criteria.

If your condition is serious but not listed, you may not be eligible for benefits. However, an experienced disability lawyer can help prove that your condition medically equals a listed impairment in severity. The SSA will then evaluate whether your disability prevents you from working and therefore, should qualify for SSD.

4. Can You Do the Work You Did Previously?

If a determination can’t be made based on medical information alone, your physical and mental capabilities will be evaluated using a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. The SSA will compare the results to the requirements of jobs you have held within the last 15 years.

If you’re capable of performing work you did previously, the SSA may conclude that you’re not disabled.

5. Can You Do Any Other Type of Work?

If you can’t do any previous forms of work, the SSA will consider whether you can adjust to any new type of work. To do so, they will evaluate your medical condition, age, education, and work experience.

Why Choose O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group

Navigating the 5 step sequential evaluation process can be tricky. Many claimants are denied due to the complexity of the application process and the strict criteria set by the SSA to prevent fraudulent claims. This is where the knowledge and experience of O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group becomes invaluable.

At O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group, we guide individuals through the 5 step disability determination process, offering support at every stage. Our compassionate approach combined with our deep understanding of Social Security law ensures that your application receives the meticulous attention it deserves.

Choosing O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group means opting for a partner who understands both the claims process and the struggles faced by disability applicants. Our goal is to help clients secure the benefits they need, allowing them to focus on what matters most: their health and well-being.

Contact Our Disability Advocates Today

Our team is dedicated to helping disabled individuals secure the necessary benefits to live more comfortably. Whether you’re applying for the first time or facing a disability appeal, our firm is here to assist you. We pride ourselves on our commitment to our clients, ensuring each person receives legal representation tailored to their situation.

Navigating the disability application process is complicated, but with the right support, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking for assistance with your disability claim, contact O’Neil and Bowman Disability Group for a free consultation. We strive to make the SSD filing process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

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