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The 5 steps of determining disability

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Social Security Disability

Indiana residents filing for Social Security Disability Insurance must pass a five-step evaluation. The Social Security Administration evaluates each applicant based on these five factors before deciding whether to approve or deny the application.

Gainful activity

The first step involves determining whether the applicant engages in “substantial gainful activity.” SGA refers to any type of gainful employment. If the SGA provides earnings that exceed a certain threshold, the applicant isn’t considered disabled.

Severity of the applicant’s impairment

If the applicant doesn’t engage in any type of SGA, the next step involves determining if he or she has a severe impairment. Based on current criteria, severe impairments are those that prevent someone from sitting, standing, walking or performing other typical job activities.

Listing the applicant’s impairments

If the administration determines that the applicant has a severe impairment, the next step involves finding out how severe the impairment is. Certain impairments make the applicant automatically eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Can the applicant perform past work?

If an applicant’s impairment is not on the list, the next step involves determining if the applicant can perform their past relevant work. This refers to any work that the applicant performed in the past 15 years for a significant amount of time. The administration also considers the level of gain the applicant earned from the activity.

The applicant’s ability to perform other work

Assuming that the applicant cannot perform their past work, the administration considers their ability to perform a new type of work. The SSA takes the applicant’s age, education and work experience into consideration when evaluating this ability.

SSDI provides financial stability for those unable to continue to pursue gainful employment due to a variety of reasons. The Social Security Administration puts these criteria in place to protect the long-term viability of the program.