Hi, I'm Louisiana Disability Attorney, Loyd Bourgeois.
In this video, I'm going to talk to you a little about the Social Security disability application process and how your application is reviewed by the Social Security Administration.
Social Security utilizes a five-step sequential process in reviewing your application.
At any step, they can determine that you are or are not qualified for benefits.
The five-step process begins with number one: Whether you are gainfully employed at the time of your disability application. If you're gainfully employed on the date that you apply for benefits, your application will be denied. If you're not employed, at a substantial gainful activity level, you can continue to step two in the process.
Step two is whether or not you have been diagnosed with a medically determinable impairment that affects your ability to work and that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. It's a very important step and requires that your disability or injury be medically determinable and verified. This requires a doctor's opinion. There's a lot more involved in that step, which we'll explain in some later videos. But if your illness or injury has not been met and diagnosed and medically determined by a doctor, your application for disability benefits will be denied. If it has, you can continue to step three in this sequential process.
Step three is, does your impairment or disability meet or equal a listing? A listing is simply a list of illnesses and disabilities that the Social Security Administration has published to tell them, and you, the criteria for certain conditions, which if met, automatically qualifies you for disability benefits. If your illness or disability meets a listing, then you will be determined disabled, and be awarded benefits. If you don't meet a listing, you have to continue to step four in the process.
In step four, the Social Security Administration determines whether or not you can perform any of your past relevant work. Your past relevant work for most people would be any of the jobs you've held over the past 15 years. Based upon the Social Security Administration's determination of your ability to perform work and a Residual Functional Capacity Evaluation, they will determine whether or not you can do any of the jobs you've held over the previous 15 years. If you can do any of those jobs, unfortunately, you won't be considered disabled and you won't get benefits. If you can't perform those jobs, Social Security then goes to the fifth step.
In the fifth step, the question is whether or not you can perform any other work that is generally available. Again, Social Security looks at the Residual Functional Capacity Evaluation that they've completed for you and they use a vocational expert to help them determine whether or not the symptoms and disabilities that you're dealing with qualify you for any job that's available in the national economy. If you can perform any job that's available, your application for benefits will be denied. If you can't, then you'll be awarded benefits.
Once again, this has been our brief video on the five-step sequential process that the Social Security Administration utilizes when reviewing your claim.