Are you seeking Social Security disability benefits? Tampa, Brandon, and other Tampa Bay Florida residents can obtain information and help here.
Many of the claimants who visit or call my Brandon and Tampa Florida Social Security disability law offices ask as one of their first questions, “Am I eligible for disability benefits?”
The short answer is, “It depends on your age, education, recent jobs, and ability to work.”
However, the Social Security disability evaluation process is not a simple one. And its results at times do not reflect the real world of work.
The Social Security Administration’s sequential evaluation process
The Social Security Administration evaluates disability claimants using a five-step process of elimination, which I have simplified in this description. The words in quotes have special meaning to the Social Security Administration.
Step 1: Work.
If you are doing “substantial gainful activity,” then you will not be found disabled. The Social Security Administration defines substantial gainful activity as work that involves more than minimal duties and pays $1,000 per month or more in 2010 (the amount goes up a little each year).
Step 2: Physical and mental health.
If you do not have a “severe” impairment, then you are not disabled. The Social Security Administration finds an impairment or combination of impairments severe if it significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. Examples of basic work activities include: walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying, and handling; seeing, hearing, and speaking; understanding, carrying out, and remembering simple instructions; use of judgment; responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and usual work situations; and dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
Step 3:Specified impairment.
If your impairment meets or “equals” one of the impairments described in the Social Security regulations known as the Listing of Impairments and has lasted or is expected to last more than 12 months, then you are disabled in the Social Security Administration’s eyes.
Step 4: Recent jobs.
If you can still do your “past relevant work,” then your “residual functional capacity” shows that you are not disabled. To get past this hurdle, you must prove that you are incapable of doing any work that you have performed in the last 15 years. You will thus have to identify your easiest job and then figure out why you cannot still do that kind of work. The Social Security Administration will compare your current ability to work to the physical and mental demands of your easiest job when making its determination.
Step 5: Other work.
Can you make an adjustment to other work that exists in significant numbers in the economy? This is the most complicated step in the evaluation process. The step considers your remaining work capacity, education, work experience, and age. The older you are, the easier it is to be found disabled.
What counts when applying for Social Security disability benefits
The five steps that Social Security Administration goes through to determine if you are eligible for benefits can be confusing. What is important for you take away from this brief introduction to the disability evaluation process is this message:
If you feel you cannot work, you should (a) apply for disability
and (b) appeal any denial.
Two-thirds of Social Security disability applications are denied, but more than half of the claimants who appeal are found disabled, so do not let rejection of your application discourage you.
If you think you are going to want assistance at some point in the process, I encourage you to let me help you from the beginning. I have many years of experience helping Tampa, Brandon, and other Tampa Bay Florida claimants from application though appeal to hearing.
To obtain my review of your claim, complete the form to the right and I will respond promptly. Or contact one of my offices. I hope to have the opportunity to help you.
Brandon Florida office
1353 Oakfield Drive
Brandon, Florida 33511
Tampa Florida office
3111 West Dr M L King Blvd, Suite 100
Tampa, Florida 33607