Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits
The government has developed a complex process to determine if someone is eligible for Social Security disability benefits. It is not enough to simply show that you have an impairment to be entitled to benefits. Instead, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will undergo a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine if benefits are available:
- Determination whether you are engaged in “substantial gainful activity”;
- Check if your impairment is a “severe” medically determinable impairment; and
- Confirmation that your impairment meets or “equals” one of the impairments listed in the Social Security regulations; or
- Determination that you can perform your “past relevant work”; and
- Check that if you can make adjustments to perform other types of work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.
There are two paths for the SSA to find a disability. First, if your impairment meets or equals an impairment listed in the Social Security regulations, the process ends at step 3. If not, you must go through steps 4 and 5 as well. Regardless of the path you take to prove a disability, you will also have to show that your disability lasted for at least 12 full months.
Denial of Benefits
It is quite common for the SSA to deny an applicant’s initial claim for benefits. In this case, it may be helpful to work with Panama City Social Security disability attorneys.
Generally, the SSA can deny your claim for benefits along any step of the sequential evaluation process described above. For example, the SSA may determine that your impairment is not severe enough, that you are able to engage in your old work despite your impairment, or that you are able to perform other types of work in denying your claim.
Just because your initial claim for benefits has been denied, you can still receive benefits by having the SSA reconsider its decision and by appealing the SSA’s determination. You should not be discouraged by an initial denial.
How an Attorney Can Help You
Experienced Panama City Social Security disability attorneys can help you along every step of the process to receive disability benefits.
- Initial Application. Your attorney can help you fill out your initial claim for benefits including completing the form and putting together documentation to prove your disability.
- Appealing a Decision. If your initial claim has been denied, your attorney can work on your appeal and gather evidence such as doctor’s notes and expert opinions to prove your claim.
- Hearing Preparation. During the appeals process, you may have the opportunity to argue your claim at a hearing. At the hearing, you will be able state your case, provide witnesses, and address the SSA’s reasons for denying your claim. An experienced attorney has been through this process many times before and can help fight for your rights.
If you have any questions about your claim for benefits, contact the Panama City Social Security disability attorneys at Trappe & Dusseault.