Every step of the disability process involves technicalities that are not easily understood. Regardless of where your claim gets denied, there are ways to prevail on appeal. Here is a breif description of common places where claims are denied, and why.
At step one, the SSA determines if the claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who earns more than a certain monthly amount is generally considered to be performing SGA. For 2017, the SGA amount is $1,170 per month. However, the SSA uses other methods to determine if self-employment is SGA. If the claimant is performing SGA, the claim is denied, regardless of the severity of impairment. If the claimant is not performing SGA, the analysis continues to step two.
At step two, the SSA decides if the claimant has a medically determinable impairment that is severe or a combination of impairments that is severe. An impairment is considered “severe” if it significantly limits an individual’s ability to perform basic work activities. If the claimant does not have a severe impairment, the claim is denied. If the claimant has a severe impairment, the analysis continues to step three.
At step three, the SSA determines whether the severe impairments meet or the criteria in the listings at 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.Very few injuries or conditions meet the listing requirements. If the claimant’s impairment meets the listing, then the claimant is found disabled. However, if the claimant’s impairment does not meet the listing, then the evaluation continues.
Before reaching step four, the Social Security Administration determines the claimant’s residual functional capacity (the claimant’s ability to do physical and mental work activities despite the impairments). In most of the SSA denials, the SSA overstates the claimant’s residual functional capacity finding that the claimant is capable of more than the claimant can really do.
At step four, the SSA decides whether the claimant can perform the claimant’s past relevant work. Past relevant work is generally the work performed in the last 15 years, as long as the work was performed long eneough to learn the job and the work was done at SGA level. If the SSA determines the claimant can do past relevant work, the claim is denied. If the claimant cannot do past relevant work, the analysis continues to step five.
At step five, the SSA determines if the claimant can do any other work. If the SSA decides the claimant can do other work, the claim is denied. If the claimant cannot do any other work, then the claimant will be found disabled.
Murphy Law Firm regularly handles claims which were wrongfully denied at all levels. If the Social Security Administration has wrongfully denied your claim, please visit Murphy Law Firm or call us at (406) 452-2345.