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The Sequential Evaluation Process: An Overview

  • Published: June 7, 2011

General Overview of the Sequential Evaluation Process

If you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will undergo a five-step sequential evaluation process in order to determine whether you’re disabled and thus qualified for disability benefits. If, at any step, the Social Security Administration determines that you’re either disabled or not disabled, then it stops the evaluation, and there’s no further proceeding to the next step.

The five steps for determining disability are:

  • You are not doing any “substantial gainful activity” (SGA); and
  • You suffer from a “severe” medically determinable impairment; and
  • This impairment meets or “equals” an impairment that is listed in Social Security’s “Listing of Impairments”; or
  • Taking into account your “residual functional capacity” (RFC), you cannot do any “past relevant work” (PRW); and
  • Taking into account your RFC, age, education, and prior work experience, you are not able to do any other work that exists in significant numbers in the economy.

An additional requirement is that you must satisfy the “duration requirement”: your disability must have lasted for at least 12 full months.

Therefore, there are two ways that the Social Security Administration can find you disabled after you’ve applied for Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI):

  • If your impairment meets or equals an impairment that’s in the Listing of Impairments (which means that the sequential evaluation process ends with Step 3); or
  • If you meet all the other requirements of the sequential evaluation process (which means the sequential evaluation process ends with Step 5).

In subsequent articles, Ocala disability lawyer CJ Henry will describe, in greater detail, each step of the sequential evaluation process.

The application process for Social Security disability benefits can be long and confusing. For assistance and expertise, contact dedicated Ocala disability lawyer CJ Henry today. Simply fill out the form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Claudeth Henry

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