If you have enough work to qualify for disability benefits, we use a step-by-step process involving five questions. They are:

1. Are you working?

If you are working in 2014 and your earnings average more than $1,070 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.

If you are not working, we will send your application to the Disability Determination Services office that will make the decision about your medical condition. (Steps 2-5).

2. Is your condition "severe"?

Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled.

If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, we go to Step 3.

3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you are disabled. If it is not, we then go to Step 4.

Note: We have two initiatives designed to expedite our processing of new disability claims:

  • Compassionate Allowances: Certain cases that usually qualify for disability can be allowed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. Examples include acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and pancreatic cancer.

  • Quick Disability Determinations: We use sophisticated computer screening to identify cases with a high probability of allowance

For more information about our disability claims process, visit our Benefits For People With Disabilities website.

4. Can you do the work you did previously?

If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then we must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, we proceed to Step 5.

Additional information about Step 4.

5. Can you do any other type of work?

If you cannot do the work you did in the past, we see if you are able to adjust to other work.

We consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.

Additional information about Step 5.

Let's look at the other requirements: