Social Security Disability involves a five-step process to determine whether you are "disabled" as defined in the Social Security Disability statute. First, Social Security will ask whether not you have done any significant work since the date you claim you became disabled. If you have not done any work, the second question is whether not your condition is "severe." If the condition or a combination of your medical conditions is deemed "severe,", then the next question is whether you meet an impairment listing.
The impairment listings are not actually in the roles, but they are an appendix to the rules. We tell our clients that the impairment listings are like a catalogue of disabilities. There are twelve chapters, and each chapter covers a certain category of medical problems. For example, orthopedic conditions appear in one chapter, neurological conditions appear and another, and psychological conditions, also known as "mental impairments," appear in yet another chapter.
Essentially, the listings are a screening tool to weed out those obvious cases. A typical impairment listing will provide a list of findings or opinions that must appear in the medical records in order to meet a listing. The thinking behind the impairment listings is that if a person's medical records have the required combination of medical findings, then it is obvious from looking at the medical records alone that this individual is not able to hold any kind of job on a regular basis. When a Social Security Disability claimant meets an impairment listing, there found "disabled," and provided benefits.
Many of our clients do not meet a listing, and yet we have been successful on many occasions prevailing on the disability appeal. This is because Social Security is required to take a harder look, even if a person does not meet an impairment listing to see if they could still work on a regular basis.
If you have questions about whether not you have enough evidence to prove your disability, or what you can do to gather the required evidence, call us at 503-325-8600. We can walk you through the process, and explain where you stand with your claim.