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Disability Lawyers

The Social Security Administration uses a 5 Step process to determine whether someone is deemed disabled under their rules. 

  1. Step One: Are you working or engaging in SGA? The Social Security Administration defines SGA as substantial gainful activity, and while not all work is SGA, if work is considered SGA then you are not deemed disabled if you are engaging in SGA. 

  2. Step Two: Is there a severe impairment?  SSA considers severity based on whether the impairment or set of impairments prevented or will prevent SGA for a period of 12 months or longer. 

  3. Step Three: Meets or equals the SSA Listings? SSA identifies a disability listings that shows a finding for being automatically disabled. If a claimant meets or equals a Listing then benefits are allowed. 

  4. Step Four: Is claimant have the ability to complete past work? Past work is any work completed in the prior 5 years. If the claimant can perform any past work, then the claimant is not found to be disabled under the Social Security Rules. 

  5. Step Five: Can the claimant perform any work available in the national economy? If the claimant can perform other work, then not considered disabled under the social security disability rules. 

The Social Security Administration will complete each step in sequential order to determine whether an applicant is disabled under their rules. 

Prior to June 26, 2024, at Step Four, past relevant work was defined as work performed within the past 15 years, however the SSA changed their rules to now include past relevant work within 5 years.