How is it decided whether a person can get SSD benefits?

An Oklahoman who is suffering from a disability, injury, condition or illness and believes he or she can get Social Security disability benefits must understand that it is not a simple matter of applying and being approved. There are steps to the process that must be followed. The Social Security Administration makes its decision based on five steps to determine if the person is disabled. It is also important to remember that if the claim is denied for any reason, there are options available to appeal the case.

First, the SSA will ask if the applicant is working. A person who works and earns over a certain amount per month will generally not be viewed as disabled. The amount is adjusted on an annual basis. For a person who is not working or has an average monthly income that comes to the current limit or below, the process will continue to step two and the medical condition. The medical condition must be “severe.” By severe, it is meant that is significantly inhibits the person’s ability to perform basic work activities like standing, walking, bending and remembering, among others. This must last for a minimum of 12 months.

Next is determining if the impairment meets or equals one on the Listing of Impairments. On the Listing of Impairments, medical conditions are listed and described as being severe enough to prevent a person from completing substantial gainful activity. If the issue is specifically mentioned on a listing or is considered equal to a listing, the case will go forward. Fourth, the SSA will ask if the person is able to do work he or she did in the past. If it does not, then the person will not be considered disabled. If it does, it will move to step five: whether the person can do any other kind of work. With other kinds of work, the person’s age, education, work experience and skills will be factored in. This is not linked to whether there are jobs available or not, just whether the person can do the jobs.

Being injured, ill or suffering from a condition that makes it difficult or impossible to work can put a person in a tough situation. Fortunately, it is possible to pursue SSD benefits. Having help from an attorney who is aware of the disability benefits application process is vital.

Source:, “Disability Benefits — How we make the decision, pages 7-8,” accessed on Oct. 31, 2017

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