How Does the SSA Determine if I Can Do Other Work?

How Does the SSA Determine if I Can Do Other Work?

The Social Security Administration process used to determine if a person is entitled to disability benefits consists of five progressive steps. These steps involve:

  • Determining if a person is presently engaging in “substantial gainful activity”.
  • Deciding if the person is suffering from a severe mental or physical condition.
  • Evaluating whether this condition meets or equals the severity of a listed condition.
  • Concluding whether the person can perform any of his or her past relevant work.
  • Determining if the person is capable of performing any other work.

It is that last step that has the potential for causing the most confusion among disability benefits applicants. Just how does the Social Security Administration or an administrative law judge determine if you can perform other work?

What “Other Work” does the SSA Look for?

Up to this point in the disability determination process, the “burden of proof” has been on the claimant to produce evidence to support his or her claim that he or she is disabled. If an individual has progressed to this point, four determinations have already been made in favor of the person seeking benefits:

  • He or she is not engaged in “substantial gainful activity”.
  • He or she suffers from a severe mental or physical condition.
  • The severity of this condition equals the severity of a listed condition.
  • He or she is unable to perform any of his or her past relevant work.

Before he or she is awarded disability benefits, however, the Social Security Administration has an opportunity to show that there are jobs in the national economy that the person can perform given that person’s age, education, work experience and RFC (residual functional capacity – in other words, what the person can do given his or her physical limitations).

There must be a job or jobs that the person can perform and that exist in significant numbers in the national economy in order for the person to be found not disabled. It does not matter at this point whether any of these jobs actually exist in the person’s local community. For instance, if it is determined that the person’s age, education, work experience and RFC enable him or her to only perform a highly specialized job of which there are only a handful of positions nationwide, the person will be found disabled. But if the person is found able to perform a job of which there are hundreds of thousands of positions nationwide, that person may lose his or her claim.

This Seems Really Complicated…

If this whole process seems complicated, you are not alone. That is why the Klok Law Firm LLC is here to help. Whether you receive benefits or not can often turn on this fifth step of the determination process, and this particular step requires the consideration of a number of facts about your personal situation. You need to be able to persuasively present your situation – especially the facts about your residual functional capacity – in order to win at this stage. So contact the Klok Law Firm LLC today at (843) 216-8860 and let us help you win your claim for disability benefits.