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What are the Five Vocational Questions that are used by the SSA to Determine Eligibility for Social Security Disability?

Man Holding Gradnma's handWhen a person believes that they can no longer work and applies for Social Security Disability benefits, there is a five-step process that they need to complete in order to prove that they are eligible. This process is fairly straightforward and is meant to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with the maximum information in the shortest possible amount of time. In order to achieve this, the SSC has devised 5 questions that provide them with key information about the condition that has prompted your application. Based on your answers, you may be deemed eligible or ineligible with reference to health.

If they agree that your health is at issue in terms of your ability to continue in your previous job, they will then move on to three other factors to determine whether you could continue working but in a different job. These other factors involve your age, your education and training levels and your work experience. Since the first step in the process is assessing the matter of your health, let’s start by looking at the five vocational questions that are used by the SSA to determine eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

The 5 questions that the Social Security Administration will ask are geared towards determining what is wrong with you and how severely the condition has impacted you. They are:

  1. Are you currently working? This is to establish whether or not the person’s income (or lack of income) qualifies them for disability benefits. The threshold amount in 2016 was $1,130 – those who are making more than that amount is unlikely to be approved for benefits.
  2. What is your medical condition, and is it considered severe? The threshold for this answer is whether or not a physical condition keeps a person from all basic work activity.
  3. Is the condition that you have included on the SSA’s reference list. This list covers every major body system and categorizes different conditions, with some automatically qualifying as a permanent disability or likely to lead to death. Those that do not fall under this category must have existed for 12 continuous months in order to qualify.
  4. Are you able to remain in your previous job?  This question applies to all previous work, beyond the job that was current at the time of the disability.
  5. Are you able to do any other type of work? This seeks to determine whether your qualifications allow for a smooth transition into another job.

When the SSA tries to determine whether you are indeed too disabled to move on to another job, they focus on issues of your age, your education, and training and your work experience. They tend to be much more forgiving of those over the age of 45, as well as of issues regarding education and literacy, fluency in English, and what skills you have attained over the course of your life.

If you need assistance or representation in applying for Social Security disability benefits, the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers are here to help. Call us or contact us online to set up a convenient appointment to discuss your particular situation.


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