The Social Security Act (the “Act”) and Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) implementing regulations provide rules for determining if an individual is “disabled” under the Act. The SSA’s criteria for determining disability may differ from the criteria used in other public and private disability programs.
You are disabled under the Act if you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months, or expected to result in death.
The Social Security Act’s Listing of Impairments relates to the evaluation of disability for each major body system. The Listing describes impairments considered severe enough to prevent an adult from doing any gainful activity. In the case of children under age 18 applying for SSI, the Listing describes impairments severe enough to cause marked and severe functional limitations. Please note that for kids cases, there are only three ways to win: meet a Listing, equal a Listing, or functionally equal a Listing. Most cases we see involve functionally equaling a Listing. The idea of functionally equaling is complex and is the subject if half-day seminars.
Most listed impairments are permanent or expected to result in death, however, some listings may include a specific statement of duration. A claimant’s evidence must show that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
The qualifying criteria contained in the Listing of Impairments apply to but one step of the multi-step sequential evaluation process in determining disability. At this particular step (Step 3), an impairment that meets the criteria in the Listing of Impairments is usually sufficient to establish that a worker is disabled. However, an impairment failing to meet the criteria of a listing-level impairment is not conclusive evidence that the individual is not disabled. Instead, it simply requires that the determination of disability move to the next step of the process, taking into consideration the application of other criteria to evaluate whether or not a disability is present. Please see my blog on the five-step evaluation process for more information.
The assistance of an experienced disability attorney can help all applicants navigate the often lengthy and complicated process of applying for disability benefits. One of the best ways to make sure you understand all of the rules and regulations associated with applying for disability benefits is to retain the services of an experienced, knowledgeable and qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Contact Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so there is absolutely nothing to lose! Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online today!