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SSA has five-question process for determining SSDI eligibility

For a person to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, he or she must apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will consider a person's application and go through a specific process before either awarding or denying SSDI benefits. It may be helpful for Tennessee residents to be familiar with the questions that the SSA will ask when considering a person's application.

First, the SSA will consider whether a person is currently working. If a person is working and earns more than a specified amount, he or she will not qualify for disability benefits. Next, the SSA will want to know whether a person's condition is severe. To be considered disabled, a person's condition must interfere with basic work-related activities.

Third, the SSA will consider whether a person's condition is found in the SSA's list of disabling conditions. Some conditions are so severe that they will automatically qualify a person to receive benefits. If a condition is not on the list, a person still may be able to receive benefits, but the SSA will have to evaluate the severity of the applicant's condition and whether it meets the agency's medical requirements for disability.

The SSA will then consider whether a person's condition interferes with his or her ability to do the work he or she did previously. A condition must interfere with a person's life such that he or she cannot do the work he or she did previously in order to qualify for benefits. Finally, the SSA will consider whether a person can do other work, and, if not, a person's application for SSD benefits may be approved.

This is a general overview of the process through which the SSA determines whether a person is eligible for disability benefits. There may be other issues or questions that arise during the process, and an attorney may be able to offer guidance to a person who is considering applying for benefits or who has already begun the process and needs guidance.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled," accessed Feb. 5, 2016

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