Application and Eligibility
Application and Eligibility
The Lansing Social Security disability lawyers at MedLaw Associates PC explain the two paths to an award of benefits
It is axiomatic that in order to be awarded Social Security disability benefits, you must establish that you are, in fact, disabled. However, as is often the case when dealing with the Social Security Administration, this seemingly straightforward statement is deceptively complicated. The Lansing disability lawyers at MedLaw Associates PC will walk you through the disability determination process step by step.
Threshold Issue: Severe physical or mental impairment
As a threshold matter, you must demonstrate that you have a severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted for a year, or is expected to last that long or to result in your death. Your condition is severe if it has more than a slight impact on your ability to work. Your condition is “medically determinable” if it can be diagnosed or established by medically acceptable diagnostic tools, tests or techniques. The duration requirement is in place because Social Security assumes that claimants will have other means (e.g., private insurance, workers’ compensation) for dealing with short-term disability.
Two paths to disability benefits: medical or medical/vocational.
Once you have established that you have a severe impairment, you must establish that your impairment prevents you from working. There are two ways to do this: (1) using medical evidence alone, and (2) using medical/vocational evidence.
Proof of disability using medical evidence alone: the Listings
Depending on your circumstances, you may be found disabled under the Social Security Listing of Impairments (the “Listings”). The Listings describe the criteria for more than 100 physical and mental impairments. Generally speaking, only the most severe manifestations of a particular condition will appear in the Listings. If your condition meets the criteria of a Listings impairment, then, as a matter of law, your condition is severe enough to prevent you from working and render you “disabled” for Social Security disability purposes. This is a strictly medical determination.
Proof of disability using medical/vocational evidence
If you do not qualify for benefits under the Listings, then Social Security will consider nonmedical evidence, including vocational evidence, to determine whether your condition prevents you from working. First, the decision-maker will evaluate the work you have done previously. In general, if you are still able to do the easiest job you have done in the past 15 years, then you are not disabled.
If you are not able to do the work you have done previously, the decision-maker will consider whether you are able to do some other type of work. To answer this question, the decision-maker will take into account vocational factors – your age, education and work history – and your “residual functional capacity” or “RFC.” Your RFC is your ability to perform work-related functions – e.g., to sit and stand; lift and carry; concentrate; and manipulate small objects – despite the limitations caused by your impairment. If, in light of all these factors, the decision-maker determines that you are unable to do any type of generally available work, then you are disabled and you will be awarded benefits.
This flowchart provides a good visual example of the two paths to an award of disability benefits.
The Lansing disability lawyers at MedLaw Associates PC can help you stay on the right path
If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Lansing disability lawyer, please contact us. We have been serving the local community since 1987, and are available to help you gather the evidence you need to support your claim at every stage of the disability determination process.