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The five-step process the SSA uses to determine disability

When a person in Missouri has a serious illness or injury that prevents them from working, they may be in a very precarious financial situation. Fortunately, our government has a safety net available for qualifying individuals in such situations: Social Security Disability benefits. Part of determining whether an applicant qualifies for SSD benefits is determining whether the applicant is disabled. The Social Security Administration has a five-step process it uses when determining whether an applicant has a disability.

First, the SSA will determine whether the applicant is working and, if so, how much the applicant earns. If the applicant earns more monthly than an amount set by the agency, then the applicant will not be considered disabled.

Second, the SSA will determine whether the applicant's medical condition is "severe." A condition is severe if it poses significant limitations on the applicant's ability to complete basic work activities. These activities include physical limitations, such as an inability to lift, walk or stand. These activities also include mental limitations, such as an inability to remember things. A medical condition can only be classified as severe if it lasts or is expected to last for a minimum of one year.

Third, the SSA will determine whether the applicant's impairment falls under the SAA's listing of impairments. These are impairments that prevent a person from performing substantial gainful activity. If it does, the applicant will be considered to have a qualifying disability. If not, the SSA will consider the final two steps.

Fourth, the SSA will determine whether applicants can perform the work they have done in the past. If an applicant is able to do this, that individual will not be deemed disabled. If an applicant cannot do so, the SSA will consider step five.

Fifth, the SSA will determine whether the applicant can perform any other type of work, despite the impairment. The applicant's skills, work experience, age and education will be considered. If the applicant cannot perform any other type of work, the applicant will be considered to have a qualifying disability.

Those applying for SSD benefits may be under quite a bit of stress. Not only are they living with a significant impairment, but they may not be able to work to support themselves financially. This could affect the well-being of the applicant, making SSD benefits all the more important. Understanding how the SSA will determine whether or not an applicant is disabled may help those seeking benefits put together a strong application for benefits.

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