5 ‘somewhat’ simple questions for SSA disability determination

The focus of our Knoxville Social Security disability law blog is on providing information to disabled individuals about the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs and the benefits of having an attorney to help navigate the complex processes.

Determining whether or not someone is disabled is a process in-and-of itself. How exactly does the Social Security Administration determine if an applicant is disabled? There are five simple questions that the SSA staff will ask. Of course, answering these questions can be quite complicated. For clarity purposes, we’ll focus on the questions in a general sense.

The first question is “Are you working?” The answer doesn’t have to be an absolute no. In fact, those that earn up to $1,070 per months are still considered eligible for benefits.

The second question is “Is your condition ‘severe’?” The question isn’t asking whether or not the individual personally considers it to be severe. The SSA wants to know if the impairment interferes with basic activities in the workplace.

“Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?” is the third question in the sequence. The SSA has a very specific list of conditions; however, an impairment that is not included on this list does not automatically disqualify an applicant.

Moving on to number four, applicants with a condition that isn’t on the list may be asked if they can do the work that they previously did. If the answer is yes, the applicant will then be asked if they can do any other type of work. If adjusting to another job isn’t an option, the individual may qualify.

Passive words like “may” or “might” are used in this post because the determination truly is made on a case-by-case basis. Understanding exactly what the SSA is looking for in the answers to these questions is one of those benefits mentioned above that a Tennessee SSD attorney provides to a client.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled,” Accessed April 16, 2014