U.S. Disability Standards: One of the Strictest Worldwide

U.S. Disability Standards: One of the Strictest Worldwide

A recent letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch expressed a sentiment common amongst individuals who have attempted to obtain Social Security disability benefits: that the process for obtaining such benefits is unduly difficult and burdensome. While the letter to the editor does not cite any specific statistics or facts to support its claim, the author of the letter does conclude that the Social Security Administration’s disability determination process is one of the strictest determination processes in the world. Given the low number of instances of Social Security disability fraud and the amount of the average benefit check, the letter seems to suggest that the disability process is unnecessarily stringent. 

The Five-Step Disability Determination Process – Is It Too Much?

The Social Security Administration’s five-step disability determination process is well-advertised. Throughout the majority of the process – right up until the very last consideration – the person seeking disability benefits bears the burden of showing that he or she is disabled. In nearly every case, this cannot be accomplished using only the statements of the claimant or his or her family members; instead, medical documentation is almost always required in order to substantiate his or her claims.

More specifically, the claimant must produce evidence establishing that:

  • At the time he or she is applying for benefits, he or she is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, which is defined as any work activity that makes at or above a certain monthly income amount.
  • He or she suffers from a “severe” condition, that is, a condition that is expected to last longer than 12 months or that is likely to result in the claimant’s death.
  • This condition is either the same or equal in severity to a list of disabling conditions created and maintained by the Social Security Administration.
  • He or she is unable to perform any of his or her past relevant work because of the condition.

The Social Security Administration then says the obligation shifts to itself to produce evidence that there are other jobs in sufficient numbers available in the national economy that the claimant could perform. This can be accomplished through the testimony of the Vocational Expert at a hearing (assuming the claimant has been denied a couple of times already and is appealing that decision to a judge). Even here, though, a claimant must be ready to produce his or her own evidence that demonstrates the Social Security Administration and its vocational expert are mistaken in their conclusions if they decide you can perform other work.

You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney on Your Side

When you consider all of this, the conclusions reached by the writer of the letter do not appear all that unreasonable. This is why you need the Klok Law Firm LLC on your side. We know the disability determination process and how difficult it can be on claimants, and can help you gather and present the evidence you need to get your claim approved. We can help you even if you have already been denied. Contact us today at (843) 216-8860 to discuss your case and learn how we can be of assistance.