Continuing our discussion of the Social Security Administration’s five-step process for determining who is “disabled” and who isn’t, many people who apply for disability benefits in Oregon do not get approved at step three. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story.
Step four in the SSA’s claims evaluation process asks the question: “Do you still have the ability to do work that you’ve done previously?”
If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, the SSA will assess whether it interferes with your ability to do the work that you have done in the last 15 years. If the agency determines the answer is “No,” your claim will be denied. If the SSA finds the answer is “Yes,” the evaluation process moves forward to its fifth and final step.
At step five — having already decided you don’t have the ability to do work you have done in the past — the SSA considers whether you still have the ability to do other types of work given your age, education and work experience. The SSA assesses these factors along with your remaining physical and mental capacity to work to see if you can reasonably be expected to adjust to other types of jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.
If the SSA determines that you cannot do other jobs or that there are not enough available jobs of the type of work that you can do, your claim for disability benefits will be approved. If not, you may have to exercise your right to appeal — a discussion best saved for another series of posts.
Source: Social Security Online, “Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled.”