Archive for August, 2010
An Article by Portland Attorney Sara Staggs
Social Security benefits can seem almost impossible to obtain. In fact, many claims are only approved upon appeal from the initial denial. In addition, allegations of epilepsy are among the most difficult types of claims adjudicated by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and many errors can, and often do, occur with both the Social Security judges and the treating doctors.
A claimant can increase their odds of obtaining benefits with a better understanding of the system. The whole process of being awarded Social Security benefits is based on a five-step disability evaluation. The claimant’s answer to these five questions determines whether they will receive an ‘approved or ‘denied’ letter from the SSA:
- Is the claimant engaged in “substantial gainful activity”; and
- Does the claimant have a “severe” impairment; and
- Does this impairment meet or “equal” one of the impairments described in the Social Security “Listing of Impairments”; or
- Considering what the claimant can still do, even with their impairments, (their “residual functional capacity”), are they unable to do “past relevant work,” and
- Is the claimant able, even with the impairment, to do other work, considering the claimant’s age, education and work experience.
The words in quotations have specific definitions under Social Security regulations – and those definitions don’t always follow common sense.
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