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What is sequential evaluation for SSI-related benefits?

Supplemental Security Income benefits are part of the Social Security Disability program for those whose income falls under certain levels and are blind, aged or disabled. Tennesseans who believe that they meet the requirements to receive SSI-related benefits must understand certain aspects of the decision-making process. Included is the sequential evaluation for those who are 18 or older. The Social Security Administration will ask: whether the individual is working; if the impairment is severe; if the impairment meets the Listing of Impairments; if the individual can do work he or she did in the past; and if the person can do any other work.

If the person is working and earns more than $1,130 each month, he or she will be found ineligible. When the person is not working enough to meet the threshold, the case will be considered by the Disability Determination Services to decide whether there is an impairment. The severity of the impairment will then be examined. If it is found to be severe, it will be a significant impediment to the physical and mental capability to do basic work. Basic work functions include standing, sitting, walking, hearing, seeing, understanding, remembering, utilizing judgment, accepting supervision, handling changes and more.

Once the impairment is deemed severe, it must meet or equal an impairment on the Listing of Impairments, also referred to as the Listings. The impairment must either meet the criteria of one on the listings or medically equals the criteria on one of the listings. Once this is met based on the impairment and it lasts for the required duration -- 12 months -- then the person is considered disabled and no more questions will be asked. If not, then there will be a Residual Functional Capacity assessment. This determines whether the person can do work he or she did in the past 15 years. This is not connected to whether there is a job in that area available, just whether the person can do it or not. If this is found to be the case, it will move on to see if the person can do any other kind of work.

Those who are seeking SSI benefits should be aware of the requirements for an approval, including the sequential evaluation. For assistance, having an attorney experienced in all aspects of Social Security disability is an imperative.

Source: ssa.gov, "Sequential Evaluation For Individuals Age 18 Or Older," accessed on Jan. 2, 2017

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