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Michael J. Duber and Brandon T. Duber

How the Social Security Administration Determines if You Are Disabled

Apr 29, 2016 |

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reported in 2013 that one in every four 20-year-old workers will become disabled before they retire from the workforce. If you are injured or have an illness that is so severe that it stops you from being able to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration pays these benefits only to people or families of those who are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (meaning it does not cover partial or short-term disability), so the SSA must evaluate all applicants to decide if they qualify. Working with a social security benefits attorney can help ensure your application presents your case in the most persuasive way as the SSA reviews it.

In order to determine if a person is disabled, the SSA uses a five-question process. During this process, the organization evaluates the factors surrounding your condition, work history, work capacity, age and education, and is looking for specific answers that will qualify you for benefits. If you pass the requirements of the first step’s question, you move forward to the second question and so on.

The questions involved with the evaluation process are:

  • Are you working, and if so, how much do you earn per month?
  • Does your condition classify as severe?
  • Is your condition technically disabling according to the SSA’s standards?
  • Are you able to perform your previous work duties?
  • Can you do any other type of work?

Based on how your Social Security disability application stands up to the SSA’s review process, the SSA will either deny your application or forward it onto your state’s Disability Determination Services office, which will continue evaluating your case.

If your Social Security disability application is denied, or if you are just beginning the application process now, the social security attorneys at Bentoff & Duber can help. Contact us for your free consultation at 216-861-1234 or fill out a contact form.


About the author: Brandon Duber, a Partner with Bentoff & Duber Co., LPA, is a lawyer with proven experience in the courtroom and expertise in the areas of workers’ compensation, criminal defense, personal injury and medical malpractice law. He received his B.A. from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and his J.D. from The Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, OH.