Filing for any sort of disability can be a long and complicated process. Like anything, though, it can be much more nerve-wracking if you don’t know what to expect. Filing for disability with the Social Security Administration can be even more complicated. When filing for supplemental security income (SSI), there’s a 5-step process that the SSA goes through to determine your eligibility. Knowing the stages of the disability evaluation process for SSI can help you know what to expect, which makes you both better prepared as well as more confident. Here are the stages:
1) The SSA will determine if you are working, and, if so, how much you are making. There’s a limit to how much you’re allowed to earn per month, called the SGA limit (Substantial Gainful Activity). If you are making more than this amount per month, your case will end right then and there. So, before you file, make sure you know your limit, and that you are under it.
2) If you are not working or exceeding the SGA limit, the SSA will then look at your claim of disability and evaluate the evidence. At this stage, the SSA is basically trying to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed. If there is, your case moves on to step 3.
3) The SSA will decide if your case meets the criteria for one or more of the various medical impairments recognized by the SSA (and listed in what is commonly known as the Blue Book). This listing gives detailed information about a number of recognized disabilities, and if your specific impairment falls into one of these categories, then you will most likely be approved for benefits then and there. If not, your case moves on to step 4.
4) The SSA will look at your medical records to determine if you are able to perform any “past relevant work.” What that means is that the SSA will look at your entire job history for the past 15 years–not just your current employment–and compare it to your medical documents to determine if you can do any of that work again. If so, you will be denied based on the grounds that you can go back and work at an old job. If not, your case goes through one final stage.
5) The SSA will then take one more look to see if you are able to work at basically ANY available job. Since disability from the SSA is not about compensation for injury, but about ability to work at all, if you can work at a job–even if it’s not one you have been trained for yet–then most likely you will be denied benefits.
If this sounds confusing, it can be, which is why it’s a good idea to speak with experts who can help you with your case. If you’re going through the Supplemental Security Income application process in Maryland, and need help, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!