Social Security Disability (SSDI/SSI)
If you have a medical condition or suffered an injury that prevents you from working you may be eligible for disability benefits through Social Security. The two most common disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration is the Social Security Disability (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
Obtaining Social Security disability benefits can be a headache. Convincing the Social Security Administration that you are disabled can be a long and difficult process. Social Security disability benefits are rarely awarded when you initially apply so you have to file at least one appeal, possibly more. This denial and appeal process can last months.
Furthermore, applying and appealing a denial of Social Security disability benefits does not mean you will be found disabled. Proving your case requires obtaining and submitting the best evidence which often means obtaining a doctor’s opinion about your medical condition and how it impacts your ability to function.
Determining Eligibility for Social Security Disability
The Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income programs apply the same decision making process in determining disability. The process is made up of a 5 step sequential evaluation:
Step One: Substantial Gainful Activity
Step one looks at whether you are or are able to engage in substantial gainful activity. Substantial gainful activity is the performance of significant physical and/or mental activities in work for pay or profit, or in work of a type typically done for profit.
If you are performing substantial gainful activity or you are able to, then you will be found “not disabled.” If you are not or cannot perform substantial gainful activity then you proceed to step two.
Step Two: Severity
In order to be deemed disabled you must suffer from a medically determinable severe impairment. A severe impairment is one which prevents you performing substantial gainful activity because the impairment significantly limits your physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities. The impairment must have lasted or will be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
If you are found to have a severe impairment then you proceed to step three; if not, you will be found “not disabled.”
Step Three: Listed Impairment
At this step in the sequential evaluation your condition is evaluated to determine whether it meets or is equivalent to one of the listed impairment defined by the Social Security Administration.
If your condition does meet one of the listed impairments, then you are deemed disabled. If your condition does not meet one of the impairment then you proceed to step four.
Step Four: Past Relevant Work
Here, you have to show that you are not capable of performing your past relevant work. Past relevant work is work performed in last 15 years that was at the level of substantial gainful activity and that lasted long enough for you to learn how to do the job.
If you prove that your condition prevents you from performing you past relevant work then you proceed to step five. If it is found that you are capable of performing your past relevant work you will be found “not disabled.”
Step Five: Other Work
After you prove that you cannot perform your past relevant work you move to step five where the Social Security Administration must show that based on your physical and mental capabilities, there are a significant number of jobs in the national economy that you could perform. If it is determined that there are a significant number of jobs that you could perform then you will be found “not disabled.” On the other hand, if there are not a significant number of jobs that you could perform, you will be found disabled and entitled to benefits.
Throughout the process there are a number of hurdles that you must overcome to be awarded benefits. In most cases, steps four and five are the most complicated and contentious issues that you will have to deal with.
At Tabor Law we can navigate you through the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits. From the moment you become a client at Tabor Law we will collect, develop, and submit the best evidence possible so that you have the best chance at being awarded Social Security disability benefits. As is always the case at Tabor Law, you do not pay an expenses or fees upfront and a fee is only collected if we recover for you. Give us a call at (402) 506-4444.