The Social Security Administration uses a Five Step evaluation process to decide if you are disabled.
- Step 1. Are you working? If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, SSA will consider you not disabled. The amount of earnings changes each year. If you are not working (or your monthly earnings average less than a certain amount), then SSA will go to Step 2 and look at your medical condition.
- Step 2. Is your medical condition severe? In order to receive SSDI, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, SSA will consider you not disabled. If your condition is that severe, SSA will go to Step 3.
- Step 3. Does your medical condition meet a Listing of Impairments? SSA has a set of regulations called the Listing of Impairments. This Listing describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean you are disabled. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, SSA will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, then SSA goes on to Step Four.
- Step 4. Can you do the work you did before? At this Step, SSA investigates whether you can perform the duties of any job you had during the fifteen (15) year period prior to your disability. If SSA decides you can perform any of your former jobs, it will decide you are not disabled. It does not matter that a former job is no longer available to you. If SSA decides you can not perform any of your former jobs, it will then go to Step 5.
- Step 5. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the past, SSA looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you can not do other work, SSA will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, SSA will decide that you are not disabled.