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What are the steps for receiving Social Security disability?


When a resident of Wayne County or anyone throughout the state of Michigan believes that he or she might qualify for Social Security disability benefits, there can be some confusion as to the eligibility criteria. Before moving forward, it's important to understand that the process can be expedited or delayed, depending on a few different factors.

First, a series of questions must be answered to determine whether or not a person meets the criteria of being disabled for the purposes of Social Security disability benefits. However, it is possible for an individual to work and still receive disability benefits for a mental illness or physical illness in some situations. If a person is working, he or she cannot average more than $1,070 per month and still be deemed disabled. If a person is not working, the SSA will move on to step 2. This will decide if the person's disabilities are "severe." In order to be designated "severe," the condition must interfere with basic work activities. If a medical condition is not considered to be "severe", the SSA will move to step 3 in evaluating a person's claim for benefits.

During step 3, SSA will examine the Listing of Impairments to decide if the severity of the medical condition will automatically result in a finding of disability. If there is a condition that is not found on the list, then the SSA will have to look at the disability and decide whether or not it is equivalent to one that is listed. In the event that it is a listed impairment, there will be a finding of disability. If not, it will be necessary to move to step 4. During step 4, if SSA considers the condition to be severe, but the condition doesn't reach the level of severity as indicated on the list, then SSA must decide if it will interfere with the individual's ability to do work that he or she has done in the past. If not, SSA will deny the claim. If so, the SSA moves to step 5. With step 5, SSA will have to determine if the claimant can do any other form of work.

People who have a mental illness or a physical illness that they believe prevents them from working have the right to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Given the strict rules regarding applying and being approved, it's wise to have assistance from a legal professional before moving forward in order to have a better chance to be awarded benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled," accessed Dec. 15, 2014

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