How Are Disability Benefits Determined?

There are basically five steps in determining disability. First, you have to show that you have not been gainfully employed in the past year. Second, you have to suffer from a severe condition that is expected to last at least one year. Third, you have to fall within the listing of impairments. Social Security has an index that has a listing of impairments that has various types of illnesses and symptoms of those illnesses. Obviously, if you fall within that category, your case is easier. But if your disability is not listed there, you can still get disability benefits as long as you meet various other types of criteria. Fourth, you have to not be able to do your current job or a job similar to that. In other words, you cannot have transferable skills where you could go on and do another job similar to the one you’ve currently been doing. The next step they look at, which is five, is that there are no other jobs out in the national economy that you can do. Those are the five basic steps—it’s kind of like a sequential steps or evaluation that you have to pass each level before you go on to the next one. If you do that, then obviously you’ll get disability.