The five steps that the Social Security Administration uses to evaluate disability claims

When our Oregon and Washington Social Security clients with disability claims ask whether or not their claim will be accepted by the Social Security Administration we explain the five-step system that the Social Security Administration uses to evaluate disability claims.

The Social Security Administration’s sequential evaluation process

The regulations that govern the Social Security Administration establish a five-step sequential disability evaluation process.

Briefly summarized, the steps that the Social Security Administration takes are to consider:
1. Whether you are currently working.
2. Whether you have a severe impairment, and have had it or expect to have it for a full year.
3. Whether your impairment meets or equals an impairment in a Listing of Impairments.
4. Whether you can still do any job that you have had in the last 15 years.
5. Whether you can do any other work.

Even though the regulations establish five steps, there are really two different ways that the Social Security Administration may conclude that you are disabled.

One way is to decide at step three that your impairment meets or equals one of the impairments in the Listing of Impairments. At that point the Social Security concludes that you are eligible for disability benefits, and there is no need to go to steps four and five.

The other way is to fail to establish disability at step three, but then at steps four and five the Social Security Administration can conclude that you are unable work and therefore need disability benefits.

An experienced Vancouver Social Security disability lawyer can help you with your Social Security disability claim

The Social Security Administration has a lot of complex regulations. Pursuing a disability claim on your own can be confusing and frustrating, and you may want an experienced Vancouver Social Security disability lawyer to help you through the process.

If you are not already represented by an Oregon or Washington Social Security disability lawyer, consider getting an evaluation from us about your claim. Give us a brief description of your claim using the form to the right, or e-mail or call our office.

Marla Heikkala & Associates
Vancouver Washington Social Security disability lawyers

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Street address:
6529 N.E. Hwy 99
Vancouver, WA 98665

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 61749
Vancouver, WA 98666