Social Security Advice – The Steps

Question:  I suffer from severe, chronic back pain that keeps me from working a full-time job.  I have tried to work but can’t keep a job due to needing additional breaks or taking off when I have a bad day to deal with the pain.  Do I qualify for Social Security benefits and what is the process?

Answer PART 2:  In Answer Part 1, I addressed the overall process of filing a claim.  In Part 2, I will now address whether you qualify or not.  Without knowing the facts or your particular claim I cannot respond directly.  Each claim has its own merits but all claims are evaluated under the same rules.  The Social Security Administration and/or the Administrative Law Judge reviewing the claim at a hearing will apply a five-step process.  Your claim must pass each step, in order, to be successful.  In simple, lay terms, the steps are:

Step 1:  Do you work and earn less than $1,010.00 per month?  If yes, go to Step 2.

Step 2:  Do all of your diagnosed impairments combined cause you to be unable to perform basic work activities for at least twelve months or, alternatively, are your impairments going to kill you?  Yes, if you are going to die they are supposed to approve you.

Step 3:  Do your impairments meet the government’s rules as written in “the listings” to be considered disabling?  If yes, congratulations you qualify.  However, the criteria in “the listings” are so outrageous that few meet them.  So, we go on to the 4th Step.

Step 4:  Are you unable to do any of the work you have done in the past 15 years?  If yes, proceed to Step 5.

Step 5:  Are you unable to do any other kind of job?  By “any” job I mean any job.  If you can think of a job and you can do it you likely don’t qualify.

Of course, there are legal exceptions and a multitude of rules and regulations at each step affecting each claim.  It is important that you hire a knowledgeable attorney who can navigate these issues and prepare evidence to prove your claim at the hearing.  All attorneys must, by law, represent you on not more than a 25% contingency fee basis and the fee is capped at $5,300.00.  By law, if they lose they don’t get paid for their services.  This is not some grand favor they are doing for you as suggested by the “TV” lawyers.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at www.