How Does the Social Security Administration (SSA) Determine if Someone is Disabled?

Once the SSA determines that you meet the work history or financial need requirements for SSD or SSI benefits, the same 5-step sequential evaluation is used to determine whether you meet the requirements to be found disabled under either program.

Step 1: Are you working?

You must either not be working or, if you ARE working, your monthly wages must be less than a maximum amount set by the SSA. The maximum amount changes annually.

Step 2: Is your condition severe?

Your impairment must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered at the next step.

Step 3: Is your condition found in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments?

SSA maintains a Listing of Impairments for each major body system. The Listing of Impairments consists of various specific injuries, diseases, or conditions. If you suffer from one of these injuries, diseases, or conditions, you are automatically found to be disabled. If you suffer from an injury, disease, or condition that is not on the Listing of Impairments, you must proceed to the last two steps. To view the Listing of Impairments, click here.

Step 4: Can you do the work you did previously?

In order to be found disabled, you must be unable to do any of the types of work that you performed in the last 15 years.

Step 5: Can you do any other type of work?

SSA will make a determination as to whether or not you can perform any other type of work. SSA will consider your age, education, work history, job skills, and your medical condition to make this determination. SSA will review the job demands of numerous occupations on a list compiled by the Department of Labor. If SSA finds that you are unable to perform any of these occupations, your claim will be approved.

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Awards & Accomplishments

The workers' compensation attorneys at Martin Law have received numerous honors and awards—from other lawyers, neutral third-party publications and trusted consumer organizations. The achievement we are most proud of is simply being able to help the many decent, hardworking people who have suffered the misfortune of a work injury.