Why was my claim for Social Security disability benefits denied?

Rarely is there a quick and easy answer to this question. It may be that your claim was denied for non-medical reasons (e.g., you do not have enough work credits to qualify). More likely, though, your claim failed at some point during the Social Security Administration’s “sequential evaluation process.” The sequential evaluation process is a five-step analysis that the Social Security Administration uses to evaluate every claim for disability benefits. This process ensures that the Social Security decision-maker considers the same factors in the same order in every case. The sequential evaluation process works like a flowchart; a “wrong” answer at any point in the analysis results in the denial of the claim. The five factors considered are:

  1. Are you presently working? [No.]
  2. Do you have a “severe” mental or physical impairment? [Yes.]
  3. Does your impairment “meet or medically equal” an impairment described in the Social Security Listing of Impairments? [If yes, then you are disabled as a matter of law; if no, then the analysis continues.]
  4. Are you able to do the work you did previously? [No.]
  5. Are you able to do any other type of work available in the economy? [No.]

For more information on how the Social Security Administration evaluates your claim, read the articles listed under The Disability Evaluation Process in the Social Security disability library below.

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