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CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC

The Sequential Evaluation Process: Step 3

  • Published: June 7, 2011

Return to Step Two.

In this article, Ocala disability lawyer CJ Henry discusses what could be the last step of the sequential evaluation process for the determination of your disability, Step 3.

Step 3: Does Your Impairment Meet or “Equal” an Impairment in the Listing of Impairments?

Step 3 of the sequential evaluation process for Social Security disability benefits involves determining whether your medical symptoms and findings meet or “medically equal” one set of the medical symptoms and findings that are enumerated in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments describes the objective medical criteria for determining disability (that is, whether your impairment is severe enough to preclude you from performing substantial gainful activity).

If your impairment does not “meet” a listing on the Listing of Impairments, you can still satisfy this step if you successfully argue that your impairment “equals” a listing. There are four possible ways to “equal” a listing:

  • Your impairment does not have one of the essential findings for a particular impairment, but your condition falls in line with the other findings;
  • You basically have all the essential findings of the listed impairment, and one or more of the findings isn’t “severe” enough, but your condition falls in line with the other findings;
  • Your impairment is not found in the Listings, but it’s so severe that it corresponds with an impairment that does show up in the Listings; or
  • You suffer from a multitude of impairments, all of which are absent from the Listings, but they have a cumulative impact that equals the severity of a listed impairment.

In determining whether your impairment equals a listing, the Social Security Administration will compare the medical findings, symptoms and functional limitations of your impairment with the impairments that appear in the Listing of Impairments. First, however, the decision maker will have to get an opinion from a medical expert hired by the Social Security Administration.

If your impairment does not meet or equal an impairment in the Listing of Impairments, the Social Security Administration may still find that you’re disabled if you satisfy the requirements set forth in Steps 4 and 5.

For help with your Social Security disability claim, contact experienced Ocala disability lawyer CJ Henry. Simply fill out the form on this page to schedule a free consultation.

Continue to Step Four.

Claudeth Henry

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