FA Plus Disability, Inc.

Home 5 Steps


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Step 1

Are you working and grossing more than $1180.00 per month in income?

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Step 2

“Are you seeing a doctor?

Step 2 requires a person applying for disability benefits to have what Social Security calls a “Medically Determinable Impairment.”  So, what’s a “Medically Determinable Impairment?”  Here is Social Security’s definition:

A “medically determinable” physical or mental impairment is an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities, which can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. A physical or mental disability must be established by objective medical evidence from an adequate medical source. Actual medical evidence is signs, laboratory findings, or both. We will not use your statement of symptoms, a diagnosis, or a medical opinion to establish the existence of an impairment(s).

The last two requirements of a  “medically determinable impairment” are:

The condition has to be “severe” which means the condition creates problems that interfere with a person’s ability to perform essential work activities such as being on time for work, taking only regularly scheduled breaks, and being able to stay focused on the task at hand; and

The condition has to have lasted 12 months or be expected to continue 12 months or is terminal.

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Step 3

Meeting or Equaling a Listing

One way to get approved for Social Security disability is by meeting the requirements of one of Social Security’s disability listings. However, when your condition doesn’t exactly match the criteria in a listing, but it’s close, you might be able to convince Social Security that your condition is “medically equivalent” to the listing. If you do, you’ll be granted disability benefits.

Social Security’s regulation regarding the Listing of Impairments explains that to meet a listing; the disability applicant must satisfy all the criteria of the listing, including any relevant criteria in the introduction of the listing and the durational requirement (one year unless otherwise noted in the listing). But medical equivalence can be found without meeting all of the listing criteria. Medical equivalence is shown when your impairment is equal in severity and duration to the criteria of any listed impairment.

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Step 4

Can you still do the easiest job you have done in the past 15 years?

Up to now, the focus has been primarily on determining what a person’s documented medical conditions are and how severe they are.  At Steps 4 and 5, the focus now shifts to vocational questions – questions about a person’s ability to do a job.  Step 4 looks at whether a person can still do the easiest job he or she did in the past fifteen years despite their medical problems.

At Step 4 Social Security considers whether a person’s limitations prevent them from performing their “PRW” Past relevant work is work that a person has done within the past fifteen years for at least three months at full-time in exchange for pay. If Social Security determines that someone can still do the type of work that he or she have done in the past in spite of his or her medical conditions, their application for Social Security Disability benefits will be denied.  If, on the other hand,  Social Security determines that a person can’t do the easiest job they have worked at in the past fifteen years, then we go to the last question of the 5-step evaluation process.

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Step 5

Given your age, education, work history, and your medical limitations are there any other jobs you could still do?

Step 5 considers whether a person can make the vocational adjustment needed to perform other types of work. Specifically, does the person have the ability to adjust any other kind of work, considering that person’s physical and mental limitations, their age, their education, and their past work experience? At this point, Social Security has the “burden of proof” to show that there are jobs in significant numbers that the person could still do despite their limitations, other than what the person did in the past.