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The SSA has a five-step process to decide if you are disabled

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from earning a living, you may consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Once you file your application to receive SSDI benefits for illness, the Social Security Administration will begin its five-step evaluation process to determine whether you are disabled under the SSA's definition of disability.

First, the SSA will determine whether you are working and earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount every month. For 2019, the monthly SGA amount is $1,220, and for statutorily blind individuals, the monthly SGA is $2,040. If you are earning more than the monthly SGA amount, you will not be eligible for disability benefits.

Next, the SSA will look at whether your illness or condition is considered "severe." Your condition must cause significant limitations on your ability to perform everyday work tasks (e.g. sitting, walking, remembering) for at least 12 months. If your condition does not meet this criteria, you will generally not be considered disabled.

If your condition is "severe," the SSA will look at whether your condition is within the SSA's listing of impairments. For each condition listed, the SSA specifies certain criteria that your condition will need to satisfy. If your condition does not meet the listed criteria, the SSA will move to the next step.

The next step will be evaluating whether you can still perform the work you used to perform, despite your condition. If your condition keeps you from doing the work you used to do, your condition may qualify as a disability and the SSA will move on to the final step of the evaluation process.

For the fifth step, the SSA will determine whether your condition prevents you from doing other kinds of work. The SSA will evaluate your work experience, age, skills, and education, to determine if you are able to do other types of work. If you cannot, then the SSA will consider you disabled and you will likely qualify for disability benefits.

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