Get Help With Your Social Security Disability Case - Frequently Asked Questions

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Applying for Social Security Disabilty Benefits, whether for yourself or a loved one, can be difficult and confusing. You need an experienced advocate who can help you navigate the process. At Finch Davis, we will meet with you to evaluate your case and help you with the application process so you avoid costly mistakes. There is no fee owed to our firm until your claim is approved.

How disabled to I have to be to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

Fortunately, regulations for Social Security make it simpler to be found disabled as you age. It is easier for some people to qualify for Social Security at age 45 (if they cannot read English), for a larger number of people to qualify for it at age 50, for a number larger than that to qualify for it at age 55, and for an even larger number of people to qualify for it at age 60. If you are over the age of 55 and you are unable to perform any job that you have performed in the previous 15 years, you should definitely apply for Social Security. If you are over the age of 50 and you have a serious disability that prevents you from performing all but the simplest of jobs, you should apply for Social Security.

Even if you are a person younger than 50, you do not have to have an injury that leaves you bedridden to qualify as disabled. If you are under the age of 45, or you are age 50, unable to perform do your past job, and unable to work full-time at any regular employment position, that should also be enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Unfortunately, your inability to work and the Social Security Administration (SSA) determining that you are “disabled” are two entirely different matters. Many times, it is difficult to persuade SSA that a person is “disabled,” even if he or she cannot actually work. As daunting as this task may be, it is not impossible to accomplish, especially with Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney Stan F. Davis.

If you are unable to work, you should apply for Social Security disability benefits from SSA. Additionally, you should appeal your case if you receive a denial of benefits through at least your administrative law hearing. If you are unsuccessful at your hearing, an attorney with Social Security Disability experience like Stan F. Davis can sometimes figure out a way to win your case by appealing it.

What is the Social Security Administration’s Sequential Evaluation Process for determining disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to figure out if would qualify as disabled for purposes of one of SSA’s two disability programs—Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability. If SSS determines that you are either disabled or not disabled at any step of this process, then their evaluation is complete and it does not continue on to the next step. The five steps for this evaluation process are:

  • You are not engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA); and
  • You have a “severe” medically ascertainable impairment; and
  • Your impairment qualifies as or “equals” one of the listed impairments as described in the Social Security Regulations called the “Listing of Impairments;” or
  • When your “residual functional capacity” (RFC) is considered, you are unable to perform your “past relevant work” (PRW); and
  • You are unable to adjust to other employment opportunities that exist in significant numbers when your age, education, work experience and RFC are considered.

Please pay attention to both the terminology identified by quotation marks and to their abbreviations. Why? Because the terms have exact meanings in the law, and the legal meanings do not necessarily have the same meanings that you may expect.

In addition, for SSA to determine that you are disabled you have to meet the “duration requirement,” or that your disability has to last for a full 12 months.

What are the main points of SSA’s Sequential Evaluation Process?

To summarize, you have two main routes by which SSA could reach a finding of disability on your SSI or Social Security Disability application:

  • Your impairment must qualify as or equal to an impairment as described in the Listing of Impairments—the sequential evaluation process ends at Step 3.
  • You have to meet every other requirement of the sequential evaluation process ending at Step 5.

There are six ways in which you could not qualify to be disabled. SSA will determine that you are not disabled if:

  • You are working at the SGA level (Step 1).
  • You have no medically ascertainable impairment (Step 2).
  • You have a medically ascertainable impairment, but it does not reduce your mental or physical ability to perform basic work activities significantly (Step 2).
  • You do not meet the duration requirement.
  • You are still capable of performing past relevant work (Step 4).
  • You are capable of performing other work (Step 5).

Furthermore, SSA also has “non-disability” requirements to determine your eligibility for the Social Security Disability program. To qualify, you had to have worked and contributed enough in Social Security taxes to receive sufficient work quarters (QCs). To qualify for the SSI program, you would have to meet additional asset and income requirements.

Do you have a physical or mental impairment and you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits? If so, you may understandably be overwhelmed by the evaluation process used by SSA to receive benefits and by the changes you have experienced because of your impairment. You need experienced Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney Stan F. Davis on your side to ensure that you receive the benefits you justly deserve. Please contact his firm, Finch Davis, APLC, by calling (255) 925-9368 to schedule your free consultation.

Get Help with Your Social  Security Disability Application