Social Security Disability is designated for those who have worked but are no longer able to because of an injury or a diagnosed medical condition. When applying for SSD benefits, applicants must clear a five-step application process administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The Five-Step Application Process
The five-step process established by the SSA is derived from five basic questions, which are:
- Are you working? If you are earning over a certain level of wages (usually $1,047 per month), you are not disabled. If you are not earning anything or not earning at the established level, you can proceed to step two.
- Is your condition considered severe? If it’s not considered severe by SSA standards, you are not considered eligible for benefits. If your medical condition will limit you in basic work activities – sitting for prolonged periods, standing, lifting 10 pounds or more, etc. – for at least one year, your condition is severe.
- Does your impairment or combination of impairments meet or equal a condition on the listing of impairments? If yes, you are disabled. If not, go to step four.
- Can you return to previous work? If so, you are not disabled. If not, go to step five.
- Can you do other work? SSA considers your impairment and resulting limitations, education, literacy, age and vocational skills. If you can do other work, you are not disabled. If you cannot, you are disabled.
Applicants who are denied benefits are given the option to appeal the decision; however, they have 60 days to file an appeal after the decision and must notify the SSA if they plan to use a lawyer or approved representative during the appeals process.
Because this is a complicated, multi-step process, contacting a knowledgeable Knoxville attorney is crucial to your case.