The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a special procedure with five steps to see if you qualify as disabled according to the rules of the two disability programs: Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income. If the agency decides you are "disabled" or "not disabled" at any of the five steps, the process ends at that step and that is the agency's decision. These are roughly what the five steps are:
You are not working in any significant job.
You suffer from a serious medical disability or impairment.
Your disability is found in the Social Security Administration's list of known impairments.
You cannot do any jobs you have done in the last 15 years.
You can't do any other job that might be available to people with your age, education, and work experience.
Keep in mind your condition must also last for at least 12 months to qualify as disabled.
In other words, there are basically two ways to be found disabled by the SSA:
Your condition is found in the SSA's list of known impairments, or
You meet all the other steps of the SSA's procedure.
You will probably be found not disabled if any of these are true:
You can work at a significant level.
You don't have any disability or condition that your doctor can diagnose.
You have a disability, but it does not limit or stop you from working or doing other activities.
You have been disabled for less than 12 months.
You are able to do any of your previous jobs.
You are able to do other jobs in your area.
There are also other requirements to being found disabled according to the SSD program: You must have worked for long enough and paid enough taxes to qualify.
If you do not qualify because you have not worked enough, you may still qualify under SSI, as it is based on income.
Exceptions to the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process
Do you fit one of the three special profiles listed below?
Did you know that there are three additional ways for SSA to find that you are disabled without completing SSA's standard five-step sequential evaluation process? If you fall into one of three particular medical-vocational profiles, you will be found to be disabled without SSA checking to see if you meet Step 5 of the evaluation process and without SSA consulting the Medical-Vocational Guidelines.
Can you be disabled but not eligible for Social Security?
Yes. Even if you would normally qualify as disabled according to the SSA rules, you might still be rejected by the SSA for two reasons:
Your condition is drug addiction or alcoholism. These are no longer considered to be a disease that qualifies you for disability benefits. This does not mean you cannot receive benefits if you have a drug or alcohol problem, but if that is your sole problem, you will not qualify for SSD benefits.
You fail to follow your prescribed medical treatment. If your doctor ordered treatment that is expected to make you better, and you don't follow it, you might be rejected for disability benefits.
Did you apply for Social Security? Did SSA deny your initial application and say that you do not qualify for Social Security disability insurance or SSI? Contact the Tampa Social Security disability attorneys at Kaylor, Kaylor and Leto for an initial consultation with one of our attorneys. Our motto is "We offer personal service, and personal care" and we will use our legal expertise to get you the justice you deserve.