SSA Works To Simplify Disability Evaluation Process

Submitted by rtg on

Getting approved for Social Security disability benefits has been tough in the past. Applicants typically have long wait times and have to submit a lot of different materials to prove to the Social Security Administration that they are disabled.

However, the Social Security Administration has announced changes to the disability evaluation process that will make the process simpler and easier for applicants. Here’s what you need to know about the SSA’s 2024 changes to the disability evaluation process:

What Changes Did the SSA Make To The Disability Evaluation Process?

The change that was made to the disability evaluation process is a big one that should make it much easier and faster for applications to be processed. Thanks to the change the SSA will only consider five years of past work history instead of 15 years when considering “past relevant work”. And under the new policy work that lasted less than 30 days won’t be considered.

The rule change makes it easier for people to prove that they can’t perform any of the jobs that they performed in the past due to their current disability. Now that only five years of work history is considered instead of 15 it means that people who are applying for disability will have an easier time qualifying for disability benefits. It also means the decision about their application can be made faster because the SSA is only going through five years of work history instead of 15.

Why Did The SSA Make This Ruling?

The Social Security Administration made this change as a response to an Executive Order from President Biden. The Order was issued to make sure that government agencies like the Social Security Administration are doing everything they can to process applications in a timely way and make sure that people who are disabled are getting the benefits they need to pay their bills and living expenses.

After looking at many ways to streamline the application process the Social Security Administration decided that it would only consider five years of work history instead of 15 so that the application process would be easier and faster. This reduces the wait time for applicants significantly.

What Is The Disability Application Evaluation Process?

There are several steps in the Social Security Administration’s disability application evaluation process. The steps in the evaluation process include:

  1. Are you working?
  2. The Social Security Administration will first determine whether or not an applicant has been holding down a job. If you have been working and earning money generally your application will be denied. However, if you are working and you are making less than the current income cap set by the SSA you may still be considered for disability benefits.

  3. Is your medical condition “severe”?
  4. In this case, a “severe” medical condition is one that meets the SSA’s standard of disability. Your condition must limit your ability to perform basic work activities such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, and remembering. And your condition must have lasted for the last 12 months or be expected to last for the next 12 months.

  5. Does your medical condition meet or medically equal a listing?
  6. Your medical condition must be listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. And you must also meet all of the requirements in that listing in order to be considered disabled by the SSA. You will have to submit substantial proof showing that you meet the listing requirements.

    If you can show that you have been diagnosed with a condition that is listed in the Blue Book and you can show medical documentation that you meet the requirements in the Blue Book listing you should be approved for disability benefits without your work history being considered.

    But, if you don’t have a condition listed in the Blue Book or don’t meet the requirements then the SSA will move to step 4:

  7. Can you do the work you did before?
  8. In this step the SSA will look at your work history to see if you are capable of performing any of the jobs that you did in the past. If you are, then you won’t be approved for disability benefits. This is the step that has changed.

    In the past, the SSA would look at 15 years of your work history to determine if you could perform any of the jobs that you held in that 15-year period. Now, as a result of the change, the SSA will only look at the jobs you’ve had for the past five years. This should speed up the evaluation process quite a bit so that applicants aren’t waiting for months to get an initial decision.

  9. Can you do any other type of work?
  10. If you can’t do any of the work that you have done in the past five years the SSA will look at your education, experience, and training to see if there’s any other type of work that you would be able to do. If the SSA decides there is no other type of work that you can do then your application for Social Security disability benefits should be approved.

Contact a Disability Attorney

If you have applied for Social Security disability benefits and your initial application was denied you can appeal. Most of the time when people are denied it’s because there is an error in their application. An attorney who knows the Social Security disability system can help you write an appeal letter and file your appeal.

Working with a disability attorney can improve the chances that your application will be approved on appeal. An attorney can help you fill out the application forms, gather the medical evidence you need, and help you understand how the appeal process works.

Fill out a Free Case Evaluation now to get connected with an independent disability attorney who subscribes to the website and may be able to help you with your case.