Five Step Analysis
The Social Security Administration uses the following five-step analysis to determine whether a person is disabled:
- Are you working? If you are performing “substantial gainful activity”, then you cannot be found disabled. Generally, substantial gainful activity means that you are earning approximately $1180 per month or more. If you are not working, or are not earning $1180 (or more) per month, the analysis continues to the second question.
- Do you have a severe impairment? Your impairment must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability (mental or physical) to perform basic work activities. “Severe” for Social Security purposes is not necessarily what your doctor would consider severe. This step simply eliminates people with very minor problems.
- Does your impairment meet or equal a listed impairment? The Social Security Administration has a “list” of impairments in its regulations. For several conditions, the Social Security Administration has set out specific requirements for becoming entitled to disability benefits. If you meet each of the requirements for a specific condition, you will be found disabled. If your condition is as severe as these requirements, you will also be found disabled. If you are found disabled at this step, no further analysis is required. If you are not found disabled at this step, the analysis continues to step 4.
- Does your impairment prevent you from performing your past work? The medical records are reviewed at this step to determine whether you retain the ability to perform any full time jobs you’ve done in the past 15 years. If the Social Security Administration finds that you can do any of this past work, then your claim will be denied. If the Social Security Administration finds that you cannot do any of this past work, the analysis continues to step 5.
- Does your impairment prevent you from doing ANY other full time work? The Social Security Administration looks at several factors, including your age, education, past work experience, abilities, and limitations to see if you can do any work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, week after week. If the Social Security Administration finds that you cannot, you will be found disabled. If the Social Security Administration finds that you are able to do this, then your claim will be denied.
If we take your case, it will be our job to show the Social Security Administration that their findings are incorrect.