After the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews an application to ensure that certain basic minimum requirements for disability benefits are met, it determines if an applicant worked enough years to qualify for benefits while evaluating any current work activities. If all of the aforementioned requirements are met, the application is processed and the case is forwarded to Kentucky Disability Determination Services (DDS) which completes the initial disability determination on behalf of the SSA.
The SSA uses a five-step process to decide if an applicant for disability benefits is disabled.
- Are you working? If an applicant is working and has earnings that average more than a certain threshold monthly amount (adjusted annually), the SSA will probably not consider him or her to be disabled. However, if an applicant is not working or has monthly earnings less than or equal to the threshold amount, the state agency then looks at his or her medical condition.
- Is your medical condition “severe”? To be considered to have a disability pursuant to the definition of disability used by the SSA, a medical condition must significantly limit the ability to perform basic work activities such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, and remembering for at least 12 months. If a medical is sufficiently severe, the process moves to step three.
- Does your impairment(s) meet or medically equal a listing? The SSA’s list of impairments (the listings) describes medical conditions considered severe enough to prevent a person from completing substantial gainful activity, regardless of age, education, or work experience. If a medical condition or combination of medical conditions isn’t on the list of impairments, the DDS examines a condition to determine if it is as severe as a condition on the list. If the severity of a medical condition meets or equals the severity of a listed impairment, it will be determined that an applicant has a qualifying disability and the inquiry ends. If the determination is otherwise, the process moves to step four.
- Can you do the work you did before? Here, it will be determined if a medical impairment(s) prevents the performance of any past work. If not, then the disability does not qualify. If so, the process moves to step five.
- Can you do any other type of work? At this step, it is determined if any other work may be done despite an impairment. Age, education, past work experience, and any other skills of the applicant are considered. If no other work may be performed, it will be decided that the disability qualifies the applicant for benefits.
Applicants should not wait to apply for benefits as the process may move less than expeditiously. Once an applicant believes that he or she may be eligible for benefits, contact with an experienced disability attorney is useful. The earliest that SSI benefits are paid is the month after the filing date of a claimant’s application, or the month after all the eligibility requirements are first met, whichever is later. Thus, time is of the essence when it comes to completing and filing an application.
Make sure you understand all of the steps and processes associated with applying for social security disability benefits. Retain the services of a qualified Kentucky Social Security Disability attorney. Contact Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you. Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online.