The Social Security Administration considers the following five factors in determining whether an applicant for Michigan disability benefits is “disabled,” as that term is defined by the Social Security regulations. This is called the “sequential evaluation process” because each of these factors is considered in order, and the wrong answer to any question stops the analysis at that point and results in a finding of “not disabled.”
- Are you working? If you are engaged in “substantial gainful employment,” then you are not disabled. If you are not working, then the Social Security Administration will consider your medical condition.
- Is your impairment “severe”? A “severe” impairment significantly limits or precludes your ability work, and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. If your impairment is severe, then the Social Security Administration will consider the nature of your impairment, in step 3.
- Is your impairment described in the Social Security “Listing of Impairments”? The Listing describes medical conditions that the Social Security Administration deems to be so severe that applicants with a Listing impairment (or the medical equivalent of a Listing impairment) are considered disabled by law. If your impairment does not “meet or medically equal” a Listing impairment, the Social Security Administration will consider non-medical factors in steps 4 and 5.
- Are you able to do work you have done previously (in the past 15 years)? If you answer “yes” to this question, then you are not disabled. If you answer “no,” then the Social Security Administration will consider step 5.
- Are you capable of performing any other type of work? Here, the Social Security decision-maker will consider your age, education, work experience, and skills, as well as your medical condition. If you cannot do other work that is available in Michigan or in significant numbers nationally, then you are disabled.
If your application for Michigan Social Security disability benefits has been denied, an experienced Michigan disability lawyer can help you determine where along this 5-step continuum your claim failed and how you might be able to remedy this on appeal. Please contact me if you would like my input on your claim.