How does the SSA decide if someone is disabled?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a very specific process used to determine disability. It is through this process that they make decisions regarding you and the medical condition that limits you from working.

It is important for applicants to understand how the SSA makes these decisions. Here are a few key questions the SSA will ask to deepen your understanding of the process.

Are you working currently, and how much do you earn?

If you currently work and earn more than $1,310, the SSA will most likely deny your application. If you are not working or are working sometimes and earning less than $1,310, you will move to the next step.

Is your medical condition severe?

The SSA defines a severe medical condition as one that restricts your ability to basic tasks, like walking or standing, for at least one year. Mental impairments affecting cognition can also impede your ability to hold employment, so they can also fall into the “severe” category.

Is the condition included in the SSA’s list of disabling conditions?

If you do have a disabling condition and meet other criteria, application approval is likely. However, even if the condition is not listed, you can still get approved. You will just need to undergo a separate review process for the condition.

Can you hold your previous position or any sort of employment?

If you are able to perform your previous job currently, denial of your application is likely. Additionally, if you are able to perform other work tasks, the SSA is likely to deny your application on the grounds that you are not actually disabled.

If the SSA denies your initial application, you can appeal their decision. It is important to act quickly in this case, so you can receive the benefits you need to live your life.

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