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SSDI: The 5 steps used to determine if you have a disability

SSDI: The 5 steps used to determine if you have a disability

by | Aug 14, 2020 | SSDI

Nobody should feel ashamed because they have a serious health condition. It is actually quite commonplace. About one in every four Americans live with some type of disability. Southern states often have an even higher percentage.

In order to get Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, you have to prove to the Social Security Administration that you have a disabling condition. Here is the five-step process the agency uses to decide if it believes you have a qualifying disability.

1. What is your current work situation?

If you are working at the time you apply for SSDI benefits, there is a strict income limit. In 2020, if you make more than $1,260 a month, you will very likely not meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled. If you are not working, then your application will continue to the next step.

2. What is the severity of your condition?

You can only get SSDI for severe, long-term disabilities. This means your condition makes it very hard or impossible to do basic work activities, such as standing, sitting or thinking. Your condition also must be expected to last for at least one year.

3. Is your disability on the list?

The Social Security Administration keeps a list of medical conditions that prevent a person from holding down a job. If your ailment is on the list, you will likely be considered disabled. If it is not on the list, there are two additional questions that might be considered.

4. Can you keep doing the same work?

The Social Security Administration will first look at whether your condition stops you from doing the job you had previously held. If you can continue that work, you likely won’t qualify for SSDI. If you cannot do that same work, there is one final question.

5. Can you do any other work?

Maybe you cannot do the same work, but could you get a different job? To answer this question, the Social Security Administration will look at your age, education, work experience, skills and other factors. If the agency thinks you can work elsewhere, then you probably will not qualify for SSDI.

Sometimes the Social Security Administration makes a mistake. The person reviewing an application might deny someone even though they actually qualify for benefits. When this happens, it may be possible to appeal the decision and ask the agency to reconsider.