You should file your application for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled as it can take a long time to receive them.
How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) they make their decision?
There are a number of eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability (and even more for SSI) but what it really comes down to is whether the SSA determines that you are disabled or not. This entails a five-part test. As is usually the case with the SSA, each step has a lot of mini-tests and nothing is as simple as it may appear.
1) Are you working?
The SSA interprets this to ask “are you engaging in substantial gainful activity?” Each year they promulgate a threshold, above which you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. If you are making above that amount you may not be considered disabled. In 2013 that amount is $1040.00 monthly.
If you pass this test, move on to part 2.
2) Is your condition “severe”?
Here severe means that your disability interferes with basic work related activities. If it does not, you will not be considered disabled.
If you pass this test, move on to part 3.
3) Does your condition meet a listing?
The SSA promulgates a list of conditions that they find by definition renders you disabled. For example, if your child has a diagnosis of asthma and has had an attack at least every 2 months or 6 times a year in spite of treatment requiring physician intervention they will be found disabled per the listings.
Here is a link to the full compilation of listings: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/listing-impairments.htm. If your condition is not on the list, then it must be determined if your disability is medically equivalent in severity.
If your disability meets a listing you have won your case.
If you do not meet a listing i.e. do not meet step 3 that’s ok, move onto step 4 for another chance.
4) Can you do the work you have done previously?
If your medical condition does not meet a listing, but is severe it must be determined if you are able to do the work you did previously. This will require an analysis of your work history for the past 15 years.
If you pass this test, move on to step 5.
5) Can you do any other work?
The SSA also promulgates what are called “grids” to analyze if you are able to perform any work. Here is a link to the grids: http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-app-p02.htm. The grids take into consideration your age, education level, residual physical capacity, and previous work experience. If the SSA finds per their grids that you are able to do other work you will not be found to be disabled.
When should I consider applying for Social Security Benefits? Well that’s the full test. If it is found that you have passed the prior tests you will be found disabled as long as you are otherwise eligible. If you have any questions about this part of the process, or any other call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
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