The Social Security
Administration uses a 5-step method to decide if you
qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI.
(1) Are you doing substantial
and gainful work?
A person who earns more than $900 a month
usually will not qualify for Social Security
However, a person who keeps working even
though the work makes his or her disability worse
may qualify for Social Security Disability
A person who works for only a short
period of time may qualify for Social
(2) Does your condition
interfere with basic work-related activity?
(3) Is your condition so severe
that it meets or equals the list of medical conditions
that Social Security maintains for the major body
systems? One way to win your case is If your
condition meets or equals one of the listings.
This list of medical conditions contains
technical medical requirements for severity.
An example is someone with asthma who
takes medications and follows a doctor's
instructions but still has at least 6 asthma
attacks per year that are severe enough to require
a trip to the emergency room or a physician.
(4) Are you physically and
mentally able to do the easiest kind of work you did
during the 15 years before the date you say you became
disabled? If Social Security decides you can
return to this type of work, then most likely you will
not be able to win your case.
(5) If you cannot return to the
type of work you did before, can you adjust to other
kind of work? If Social Security decides you
cannot adjust to other work, then you will win your
Whether you can be expected to adjust to
other work depends on your age, education, past
work experience, transferable skills, and how much
physical force you can do.
This way of getting Social Security
Disability means that you qualify under the medical -
vocational rules. (This is sometimes
called meeting the "grids" because a
chart or grid is used to determine who qualifies
for Social Security benefits under these rules.)
Persons under 45 years of age usually are
expected to be able to adjust to other kinds of
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