Experienced Augusta Social Security disability attorneys Harrison and Lamar discuss the Social Security Administration’s sequential evaluation process
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to decide if you are disabled and qualify for either of the two disability programs it operates—Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Social Security disability. If SSA determines that you are either disabled or not disabled at any step in the sequential evaluation process, then the process is complete. The sequential evaluation process is made up of the following five steps:
- You are not engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA); and
- Your impairment is both “severe” and medically determinable; and
- Your impairment “equals” or meets one of the impairments located in the Social Security regulations referred to as the “Listing of Impairments;” or
- You are unable to do your “past relevant work” (PRW) considering your “residual functional capacity” (RFC); and
- Considering your age, education, RFC, and work experience, you cannot make an adjustment to another job that is available in significant numbers.
Be careful when trying to understanding the terms marked by quotation marks and the letters used to abbreviate them. These particular terms have precise legal meanings and these terms may not necessarily have the same meanings as they would in other situations. Moreover, for SSA to determine that you are disabled you must fulfill the “duration requirement,” or your disability has to last for 12 full months.
To summarize, there are two main pathways for SSA to reach a finding of disability on a Social Security disability application or an SSI application:
- Your disability must “equal” or qualify as an impairment noted in the Listing of Impairments—the sequential evaluation process ends at Step 3.
- You must meet every other qualification of the sequential evaluation process ending at Step 5.
The following six items are ways in which SSA could find that you are not disabled. You will not qualify as disabled if:
- You are working at the SGA level as stated in Step 1;
- You have no medically determinable impairment as stated in Step 2;
- You have a medically determinable impairment, but it does not significantly limit your mental or physical ability to complete basic activities at work as stated in Step 2;
- Your impairment does not meet the duration requirement of 12 full months;
- You are capable of performing past relevant work as stated in Step 4; and
- You are capable of performing other work as stated in Step 5.
Additionally, SSA has “non-disability” requirements to determine your eligibility for the Social Security disability program. You must have worked and you must have paid enough Social Security taxes for you to earn a sufficient number of work quarters (QCs) to qualify for the Social Security disability program. For the SSI program, SSA has income and asset requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for SSI.
If you believe you may qualify for disability, you should get in touch with the experienced Augusta Social Security disability attorneys at Harrison and Lamar. We have 59 years of combined legal experience. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 706-722-6864.
Harrison and Lamar
16 James Brown Blvd.
Augusta, GA 30901