Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a valuable resource for those afflicted with injury or impairment. For those who qualify, the program can be the difference between poverty and making ends meet. However, the application and acceptance process can be complicated, daunting, and confusing. Only about 35-40% of applicants are eventually approved for disability insurance in Oregon, and we have one of the highest approval rates in the country!
The problem is that many do not understand the application process, and when they do, they often don’t know what exactly qualifies a person for disability. In this article, we’ll discuss both topics so you can have the best chance of being approved.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a five-step sequential evaluation process to approve disability benefits. In other words, this is how they decide which applications get approved. These five steps should double as your top 5 things to consider when applying for SSDI. By considering how the SSA approves applications, you can ensure your application meets or exceeds all of their requirements.
One: Substantial Gainful Activity
The first basic requirement for disability benefits is that the condition must be severe enough to prevent the individual from performing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). The SSA defines this as a monetary amount that, if earned monthly, will disqualify you. If you have earned income above this set amount, you will not be considered disabled. This amount is adjusted every year to account for inflation. For 2022, SGA is set at $1,350 per month. If you are able to gross a monthly amount at or above this number, your application will be denied. If you gross less than $1,350 monthly, your application is evaluated at the next step.
Two: The Definition Of Severe
To qualify at this step, your condition must meet the SSA’s definition of “severe.” As defined, the condition must have more than a minimal impact on your ability to work. Cases that impair your work slightly or where there is no medically determinable impairment are weeded out at this stage. Mild impairments, and those that only affect your work for a period of less than a year, will not qualify you for disability insurance. The disability must be expected to last longer than a year or result in death to be considered.
Three: The List Of Impairments
The SSA has a list of very serious impairments that automatically qualify for SSDI. A doctor must confirm that your condition is severe enough to impact your ability to work, and the condition must prevent you from earning at the Substantial Gainful Activity level. These serious impairments are specified in the following areas:
- Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Impairments of the Cardiovascular System
- Impairments of the Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Immune System Disorders
Four: Residual Functional Capacity
Your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) refers to your ability to work despite your disability. To determine this, the SSA will examine what work you have been capable of achieving over the past 15 years and then how your impairment, or impairments, have limited that capacity. These findings may come from work and income analysis, medical records, interviews with friends and family, or even your own statements about how you have been physically or mentally limited. If you cannot perform your normal work since the onset of your disability, the final step is for the SSA to look into your ability to do other work.
Five: Other Work
Here the SSA will attempt to determine if you are suitable for another line of work in which you could meet or exceed Substantial Gainful Activity. They will examine your RFC, age, education level, and prior work experience to see if you are capable of working another job despite your disabilities. If the answer is no, you will finally qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.
All of these areas are complicated and involve significant exceptions. Is important that you seek the advice of a knowledgeable Social Security attorney. All of these steps must be proven with documented evidence and provided to the SSA in an official and legal manner. Denials are common and often repetitive. If you wish to have your application succeed, contact the Social Security experts at Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law. We will provide a free consultation to help you get on the right track as quickly as possible. Call today at (541) 434-6466.