Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a truly confusing process. At times, it may feel as if there's no rhyme or reason to the decisions the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes. However, when the SSA reviews an application for disability benefits, they follow the same five-step evaluation for every claimant. As you fill out your paperwork, keep in mind the five things they are going to be looking at:

1. Are you working?

Most people clear this first step quite easily because they usually stopped working because of their disability. If you are currently working and your average monthly earnings are more than $1,220 (for 2019), the SSA will generally not consider you disabled and will deny your application.

2. Is your condition "severe"?

To be considered severe, your disability must completely interfere with your basic work-related activities. Some disabilities will cause minor interferences for a limited amount of time; these would not be considered severe and the SSA would probably deny your application at this step.

3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

The SSA has quite an extensive list of medical conditions, both physical and mental, that will potentially qualify you as disabled. There are certain diagnoses that can immediately qualify you—these are called compassionate allowances, and are usually for individuals suffering from acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig's disease, and pancreatic cancer. If your disability is not on the list of disabling conditions, SSA officials will decide if what you have is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list.

4. Can you do the work you did previously?

The SSA will look at your past work history and determine if you're capable of doing the lightest work possible that you've done before. If it is determined that you cannot do any of that work, you will move on to the final step.

5. Can you do any other type of work?

If you cannot do work you've done in the past, the SSA will try to figure out if you can do any other type of work. They will take into account your age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills. If they think you cannot adjust to other work, you will be approved for Social Security disability benefits.

Proving disability can prove to be quite a challenge, but with the right Omaha Social Security disability attorney on your side, you will hopefully have a good chance at having your application accepted. If you would like help applying for Social Security benefits, contact the Nebraska office of Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 for a free evaluation.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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