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What are the five steps to get SSD benefits?

When a Ohio resident has an injury, illness or other medical condition and is seeking Social Security Disability benefits, knowing the basics of the application process are essential. Understanding the federal regulations and the steps that the Social Security Administration takes when determining whether an applicant should receive SSD benefits or not is key. There are five steps. Knowing these steps can help avoid surprises and can be useful when going through the application process.

First, the SSA will ask if the person is working. If the applicant is working and earnings surpass a certain amount per month, there will generally be a determination that the person is not disabled. The amount differs annually. For people who are not working or who have a monthly income that is at the current limit or below, the process will move to the second step. Step two is deciding whether the condition is "severe." By that, it means that the problem is a significant limitation on being able to do the basic activities necessary for work. This includes standing, lifting, sitting, walking and remembering. It must last for a minimum of 12 months.

Third, the impairment must meet or equal a listing on the Listing of Impairments. Medical conditions are described on the listings. If a person's issue is not on the list, there can be an equivalent that can result in an approval. Failure to meet a condition on the listings or an equivalent will result in the case being denied. Should the case move forward, it will go to step four and asking whether the person can do the work he or she did before. If the impairment stops the person from doing any work from before, the case can move forward to step five.

Step five is when the SSA asks if the person can do any other kinds of work. For a person who cannot do the work from the past, there might be work that can be done even with the impairment. Factors that are considered are age, education, work experience and skills. If the person cannot do any other work, then there will be a finding of disability. These factors are essential to a case. Having assistance from an attorney experienced in helping clients get Social Security disability is important from the start of the case.

Source:, "Disability Benefits -- How we make the decision, pages 7-8," accessed on Sept. 24, 2017

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