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Living with a disability affects nearly every aspect of your life. For many, it’s impossible to maintain steady employment and earn a living wage. This can mean disabled individuals aren’t able to cover necessary healthcare and living expenses.

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits help provide critical support to disabled individuals struggling to maintain employment. Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are disability benefits programs. To be approved for either program, you must go through a claim evaluation process.

To prevent fraudulent claims, the Social Security Administration (SSA) critically reviews every disability application. After submitting your claim, it will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) division of your state. DDS then evaluates your disability with a 5 step sequential evaluation process.

This process helps the SSA ascertain if a claimant is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. To learn more about these steps, continue reading.

Understanding the Disability Determination Services Process

Disability determination entails a series of steps that are used to assess SSDI or SSI eligibility. Understanding these steps is crucial when it comes to filing a successful claim. Below, we underline the significance of each one.

1. Reviewing Your Employment Status

To receive disability benefits, you must not be engaged in any form of employment that generates income above a specified threshold, known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Only those who are unable to engage in SGA due to a disability can qualify for benefits.

2. Evaluating the Severity of Your Condition

Your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work-related activities before you can receive SSD. Therefore, the severity of your impairment must be substantiated by medical and non-medical evidence. Some examples of such evidence include:

  • Current and previous treatment protocols and resulting outcomes
  • Test results
  • Imaging
  • Doctor’s notes/observations
  • Testimonials from coworkers, family, caregivers, etc. attesting to the limitations your disability places on you
  • Journal entries documenting how your disability affects your daily life, including symptoms or side effects of treatment(s)

Additionally, your disability must be expected to last at least 12 consecutive months, or result in death.

3. Evaluating Your Medical Condition Against Listed Criteria

Your condition must meet or equal a listed impairment in the SSA’s Blue Book to qualify for disability. These listings include specific medical criteria.

However, if you can’t qualify under a listing, it doesn’t always mean you are ineligible for SSD benefits. For example, a combination of less severe conditions may qualify for benefits if, collectively, they severely hinder your ability to engage in SGA.

4. Determining If You Can Perform Any Previous Work

If your medical condition doesn’t lead to a determination, the SSA will request a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment is used to determine if you can return to past work based on your physical and mental abilities, despite your condition. If you’re found capable, the SSA will not classify you as disabled.

5. Assessing Your Ability to Adjust to Other Work

If returning to a previous form of employment isn’t possible, the SSA will then consider whether you can adapt to any new type of work. They will take into account your disability, age, education, and work experience when evaluating your capabilities.

Why Work With an Attorney

The claims process involves meeting strict deadlines and even stricter eligibility requirements. It also includes gathering supportive evidence and understanding complicated legal and medical language. Many applicants face disability denials due to the complexity of the SSA’s procedures.

Working with a seasoned Social Security Disability attorney like Patrick Kelly can enhance your chances of filing a successful claim. Our firm’s approach is rooted in compassion and a deep understanding of Social Security Disability law. We handle your application with the utmost care and professionalism.

If you’re asking, “What is the process of a disability determination?” contact us today. Choosing the Patrick J. Kelly Law Office means partnering with a team that fully understands the claims process and the challenges faced by disability applicants.

Contact Us

At the Patrick J. Kelly Law Office, our team is dedicated to helping disabled individuals obtain the benefits they need. Whether you’re applying for the first time or need to file an appeal, we’re here to support you.

We pride ourselves on our commitment to our clients, offering legal representation meticulously tailored to each individual’s situation. Contact us at the Patrick J. Kelly Law Office to request a free consultation and receive comprehensive support. We’ll work to make the SSD filing process as seamless and straightforward as possible.

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This web page is a resource containing general information which is intended, but not guaranteed, to be correct and current. Information on this page does not constitute legal advice. Visitors should consult an attorney to address legal concerns. You should not consider web page information, or e-mail from us, to be an agreement for an attorney-client relationship. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information or services on linked pages. We are not engaged in your representation until you sign a contract with us. Copyright 2016 PR Legal Marketing