The Five Step Disability Determination Process
Social Security asks five questions to determine whether you are disabled:
- Do you have sufficient quarters of earnings to qualify for SSD or are you SSI eligible only? (When is that date you last qualified for SSD?)
- What are your “chronic” and “severe” impairments? (These are the physical and mental conditions diagnosed by a doctor that have lasted twelve months or more and pose more than minimal limitations on your ability to function in the workplace.)
- Do you satisfy the criteria for disability in the back of the Social Security Act? (Do you meet or equal one or more of the “listings“?)
- Can you perform your past relevant work? (This is the work you performed for longer than three months within the last fifteen years.)
- Is there any other work in the national economy that you can perform?
If you can prove your medical conditions keep you from performing any full-time work then you are disabled.
Other Important Factors:
- Your age: It gets easier to get your disability benefits when you turn fifty years old, fifty-five, and sixty years old.
- Your background: The less education and skills you have the less “other” work there is available to you.
- Your spouse: If you were married ten years or more, you may be able to rely on your spouse’s work history to qualify for SSD.
- Your ability to speak English: Inability to communicate in English will further restrict your employment options.