Sequential Evaluation Process, a five part series: Part Four
Well, if you have made it through the first three steps of the process you are in good shape. The best case scenario is to meet the listing, but if your disability did not meet the listing, at step three, you will move to the fourth step. As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of claimants do not meet the listing, so the crux of those cases fall squarely on the last two steps of the sequential evaluation process. The social security administration will deal with these two steps in the common case.
The fourth step of the process involves an analysis of the claimant's ability to take part in past relevant work. In order to overcome this step you must prove that you are unable to perform any work that you have done within the past 15 years. This sounds very tough to prove, but many of a claimant's past jobs will not be included in the analysis, because only those jobs that met the substantial gainful activity definition qualify. So for example, if a claimant had a job for 6 years in the past 15 years that was below the substantial gainful activity, this job would not be included.
After pinpointing all the jobs a claimant did in the past 15 years, the claimant must then determine the easiest job of the many jobs in the past 15 years. The claimant must prove to the social security administration they can no longer do the easiest job as this job is ordinarily done. If you fail to prove this, the administration will not find you disabled. You can probably imagine the amount of work and evidence needed to prove you are unable to do your easiest job. It is a very difficult hurdle to overcome by yourself. Social security disability attorneys deal with this situation all the time. That is probably one of the reasons why attorney success rates are so much higher than a claimants going at it on their own. Having an attorney to assist you at this level of the process is worth it. Gathering relevant data from prior cases based on their experience, and collecting information from doctors and hospitals is a lofty task that you should not bear alone.
One more step in the process and you will have a complete glimpse in the analysis involved in a typical social security disability case. The sequential evaluation process is merely one part of a disability case. Beware, for there are much more complex areas of the law. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the task ahead do not get discouraged. Remember, thousands of people receive disability benefits each year. It is not impossible, especially when you have an attorney doing the leg work for your case.
Stay tuned for the last step in the sequential evaluation process.