The Social Security Administration’s 5-Step Analysis

In order to determine whether or not you are disabled – or the degree to which you are disabled – the Social Security Administration utilizes a five-step analytical process. This process includes factors such as your work status, medical condition and the severity of your condition, among others.

What is the Social Security Administration’s 5-Step Analysis?

Work Status

Whether or not you are working will has a large impact on whether you qualify as disabled or not. If you are currently employed and your monthly earnings are higher than the guidelines provided by SGA, your request for disability insurance will likely be denied on the grounds that you are already making substantial earnings.

Medical Condition

In order to qualify for disability, your medical condition must be considered severe. A severe condition is one that significantly limits your ability to perform basic activities like walking and sitting, as well as cognitive capabilities like recalling important information, for at least one year.

Listing of Impairments

If the severity of your condition meets the severity of conditions set down in the Listings of Impairments, you may qualify for disability coverage. Most of these impairments are permanent, are expected to result in death or include a statement of duration. Others must demonstrate that the impairment has lasted or will last for a continuous period of 12 months minimum.

Previous Work

If the answer to the third qualifying factor is “no,” some further investigation must be conducted. If your condition is not considered disabling, the next factor that must be determined is whether or not you can return to your position or the work that you were doing prior to your claim.

Extent of your Condition

The primary focus here is to determine whether or not you are still eligible for employment in another position that does carry the same physical or mental requirements to perform.

The Social Security Administration will conduct this analysis in a number of ways. Your work and medical history, including conditions, medications, diagnostic laboratory test results and the opinions of your doctors or healthcare providers, are all reviewed and taken into consideration. In the event that there is not sufficient information provided in your medical history, the SSA will require you to attend a consultative examination, which is conducted by a third party provider, with all costs covered by the SSA.


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