Determining Whether or Not You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits—Understanding the Sequential Evaluation Process

In order for you to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must pass what is known as the Sequential Evaluation Process. There are five steps involved in the sequential evaluation process.

Step 1: You must not currently be engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). SGA is a highly technical term that is clearly defined in the Social Security regulations. You are generally not considered to be engaged in “substantial” activity if you cannot complete your work tasks without some type of supervision or assistance that is not typically given to others with your job description. Your work is also not considered substantial if your job tasks are so menial that they provide little or no benefit to your employer. “Gainful” activity is generally any type of work that is done for pay and profit. Our experienced Cleveland Social Security disability lawyers can review the details of your case and further explain to you what does or does not qualify as SGA.

Step 2: You have a severe medically determinable impairment. This is usually the step that is the easiest to prove as medical documents or a statement from a treating physician can be used to determine the severity of your impairment. Your attorney can work with you to gather the necessary documentation that you will need to prove your medical ailment.

Step 3: Your impairment meets one of the impairments listed in the Social Security regulations “Listing of Impairments.” Note that if you satisfy this step of the evaluation process, you do not have to proceed to steps four and five. If you fail to meet this step, then you must satisfy steps four and five in order to receive disability benefits.

Step 4: When your residual functioning capacity is taken into account (RFC), it is determined that you are no longer able to do your “past relevant work” (PRW).

Step 5: When taking into account your age, education, and work experience, it is determined that you are not able to adjust to another type of work that currently exists in the national economy.

We Can Help

The Sequential Evaluation Process is highly technical and specific. Understanding it can be difficult for individuals who are not used to handling Social Security disability claims. Our law office has 30 years of experience handling Social Security disability claims, and we are well versed on the Sequential Evaluation Process. If you are considering applying for Social Security benefits but are unsure as to whether you qualify, contact the Law Office of Kordic & Braun to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Cleveland Social Security disability lawyers. Our attorneys will be more than happy to review your case and help you determine how to best proceed. Call our office toll-free at 1-800-621-0899.