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Understanding the Process

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. Social Security Disability pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on financial need.

While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the SSA and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program. But, what is a disability? And who makes the final decision on someone's disability claim? Decisions are made by the SSA and Administrative Law Judges, and must fall in line with their definition of "disability." In order to be declared disabled by the government, claims will be examined with the following-five steps:

First and foremost, are you still working? Any earnings over $1000 a month for an extended period of time might constitute Substantial Gainful Employment (SGA). Essentially, this means, while you may suffer from an impairment, you are not considered disable because you are still able to work.

Secondly, is your condition severe? Often times the answer to this question is subjective. But, SSA relies upon the following: does your condition interfere with basic work related activities? If your condition does not interfere with your basic work activities, again, you would not be considered disabled because you would still be able to perform your job requirements.

Moving on to the third step-is your condition found on the list of medical conditions? SSA maintains a list of medical conditions for multiple impairments; if you meet the requirements of a certain listing, you can be found disabled. If you do not meet a listing, we must prove that your condition is equal to the severity of a listing in order for you to be found disabled.

And, the fourth: can you do the work you did previously? For instance, assume someone was previously employed as a truck driver and had been diagnosed with epilepsy. Chances are, seizures, or the threat thereof, would prohibit them from doing their past work. However, if you can continue your past work, you would not be found disabled.

Last, but not least, can you do any other type of work? This often proves to be a hard mark to get past. Using the same scenario of a previously employed truck driver who is no longer able to drive his truck, it must be determined whether the individual could be trained to perform another job, such as a greeter at a local grocery store. An individual's past work, age, education, medical condition, and transferable skills will be taken into account.

1 Comment

from personal experience, they will not find you disabled with Fibromyalgia.......they will find "something" you can do, in their (SS) eyes. Cause in the real world, with severe Fibromyalgia and no medication to help it, you cannot do very much, you're good just to get through the day!! would love for those people (SS) to be in the shoes of mine, then say they can work! and for that matter, be in anyone's shoes that cannot work, but they say you can!

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