Are You Disabled under the Social Security’s Definition of Disability?
Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) or (SSI), the definition of disability remains the same. You are disabled under the definition if you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of anymedically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death of which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
Social Security has a strictfive step process to determine if you are disabled under the definition. At the Lam Law Firm, we will help you evaluate your case closely to help determine if have a viable case based on your medical condition and impairments. Let’s take a closer look at the five step process.
Step One: Are you currently engaging in any substantial gainful employment?
In 2012, if your earnings average more than $1,010.00 per month, Social Security will consider you working at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level and usually will not find you disabled.
Step Two: Do you have a “condition” that Social Security considers as “severe.”
Your impairments are severe IF they interfere with basic work related activities. If Social Security does not find that your condition is severe, you will not be found disabled. If your medical condition(s) affects your ability to work on a regular basis but is not as severe as any impairment described in the listings, Social Security will then take a look at your “residual functional capacity” (RFC). They will look at the evidence provided by your attorney and determine what you can still do, despite any limitations caused by your impairment(s) and related symptoms, such as pain and fatigue.
Social Security looks at medical evidence provided by your attorney to see how your medical condition affects your ability to:
- Exert yourself physically for various work-related activities (such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling).
- Do manipulative and postural activities (such as reaching, handling large objects, using your fingers, feeling, stooping, balancing, climbing stairs or ladders, kneeling, crouching, crawling).
- Tolerate certain environmental conditions (such as temperature extremes, wetness, humidity, noise, hazardous working conditions like moving machinery or heights, dust, fumes, odors, gases, poor ventilation, vibrations).
- See, hear, and speak.
- Maintain concentration and attention at work.
- Understand, remember and carry out instructions.
- Respond appropriately to supervisors, co-workers, and usual work situations.
- Cope with changes in the work setting.
Step Three: Social Security Will Decide if Your Condition is a “listed” Impairment
There is a list of all the impairments/conditions that you can find on Social Security website that is considered when examining your medical condition(s). This list will tell you what limitations for your condition(s) you must meet before you are deemed disabled. At the Lam Law Firm, we will work with you to gather all necessary medical evidence that support these listings. We will ensure that your medical records highlight the necessary requirements for your condition prior to presenting your case to the Administrative Judge.
If your condition is on Social Security’s list and is severe enough to meet the requirements of a listed impairment, you will be found disabled. If your impairment is not on the list, Social Security will determine if your condition is equal to the severity of one of the listed impairments. Just because you can find your medical condition on this list, it is not an automatic win. Your condition must meet the requirements of that particular listing to be found disabled.
Step Four: Social Security Will Decide If You Can Do Your Previous Work
If Social Security decides that your condition is severe but your medical condition does not meet or equal a listing, then they will determine if your impairments keep you from being able to perform your past work. They will examine your previous 15 years of work history to determine if you can perform any past relevant work effectively. For an example, if your previous job requires lifting of 20 lbs or more, but your medical condition only limits you to lift 30 lbs or more, you will not be found disabled under Step Four. However, if your previous job requires lifting of 20lbs or more but your medical condition limits you to lifting no more than 10 lbs, you would not be able to perform that particular prior work. If Social Security determines you cannot perform all of your prior work for the past 15 years, then you go to the next step.
Step Five: Social Security Will Determine If You Can Do Any Other Work
Finally, the last step, which we find is the hardest hurdle to surpass. If Social Security determines that there are a significant number of jobs in the local or national economy that you can perform, then you will not be found disabled. Social Security will consider your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills to other jobs you might have. If Social Security finds you cannot adjust to other work, you will be granted Social Security Disability benefits. Please keep in mind that if you are 50 years of age or older, Social Security will determine that you are not re-trainable for new jobs or skills that you did not previously have.
If we can help answer any questions you may have about Social Security Disability, please call our office today for a FREE CONSULTATION.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is for general information, only. It is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you make legal decisions based on this information. Please consult one of our attorneys to see how the law applies to your particular situation.