Will my claim be approved? Olympia disability lawyer answers
As an Olympia disability attorney, I am often asked this question. For most applicants, it’s a tough question to answer with a definite yes or no. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
Social Security’s definition of disability
Unlike other disability programs, like workers’ compensation or private disability insurance, Social Security offers benefits only for total, long-term disability. Your ability to work at a full time job is the most important consideration.
You should be approved for benefits if you (1) have a mental or physical impairment (2) that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months and (3) that prevents you from doing (a) your previous jobs and (b) other jobs that exist in significant numbers, considering your age, education, and work experience.
The Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process
To determine whether you are disabled, the disability evaluator will apply a five-step process asking the following questions.
Step 1- Are you engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA)? SGA is a job at which you earn more than a minimal amount or do more than minimal duties. If the answer is yes, your claim will be denied. If the answer is no, the evaluator goes on to the next step.
Step 2- Do you have a “severe” impairment that has lasted or is expected to last at least a year or result in death? If the answer is no, your claim will be denied. If your impairment is severe and meets the duration requirement, the evaluator goes on to the next step.
Step 3- Does your impairment meet or “equal” a Listed impairment? Social Security regulations spell out medical findings that are considered sufficient to prevent you from working. If your medical records show that your condition meets these requirements or is equally as severe, you are disabled. The evaluator will stop here and you will be awarded benefits. If not, the evaluator goes on to the next question.
Step 4- Are you still able to do “past relevant work?” Past relevant work is the easiest job you had during the last 15 years for at least 30 days. If the answer is yes, your claim will be denied. If the answer is no, the evaluator proceeds to the next and final step.
Step 5- Can you adapt to other jobs that are available in significant numbers considering your age, education, and work experience? The older you are and the less education and recent work experience you have, the more likely you are to satisfy this requirement. If the answer is no, you are disabled and will be awarded benefits.
To read more about the 5-step sequential evaluation, click here.
If your claim is denied, as more than 60 percent are, you have a right to request reconsideration. If your request for reconsideration is denied, as about 80 percent are, you have a right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. A hearing is the stage in the process at which you are most likely to be awarded benefits. If your claim is denied, do not give up too soon. Failing to appeal is probably the most significant mistake that Washington Social Security disability applicants make.
Knowledgeable Olympia disability attorneys offers help
We will be happy to review and evaluate your claim if you are considering filing for disability or if you have filed and your claim has been denied. Please describe your claim using the form to the right, and we will respond promptly. Or you may email us or call our toll-free number.
Law Office of Eitan Kassel Yanich, PLLC
Olympia disability lawyers
203 Fourth Avenue E.
Olympia, Washington 98501