Ohio disability attorney answers your questions about Social Security disability benefits
If you have applied for Ohio Social Security disability benefits, then you undoubtedly have learned that your application is just the first step in a long and often frustrating process. The Social Security Administration is a big bureaucracy, governed by rules and regulations that sometimes seems to fly in the face of common sense. Navigating the Ohio Social Security disability system can be confusing, at best, and may leave you with many more questions than answers.
We created this website to help provide some answers. Below, we have answered the questions we hear most often from Ohio disability applicants. More detailed information is available on the 100+ pages of educational materials we have included on the site.
My doctor says I’m “disabled.” Isn’t that enough to qualify me for Ohio Social Security disability benefits?
No. You will only qualify for Ohio Social Security disability benefits if the Social Security Administration says you are “disabled.”
How does the Social Security Administration define “disability”?
The Social Security regulations define “disability” as an inability “to engage in any “substantial gainful activity” by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In plain English, this means that you are “disabled” and eligible for Ohio Social Security disability benefits if you have a physical or mental impairment that is severe enough to keep you from working for at least 12 months or is expected to result in your death.
For more information on how the Social Security Administration defines “disability,” see Examples of who is and who is not disabled and Applying for disability benefits when you have . . . .
What factors does the Social Security Administration consider in making its disability determination?
In making its disability determination, the Social Security Administration considers the following five factors, in order. This is called the “sequential evaluation process”:
- Are you engaged in substantial gainful activity? In other words, are you working and earning a minimum monthly amount, as set by the Social Security Administration? If so, then you are not disabled. If not, then the Social Security Administration will consider your medical condition.
- Is your medical condition “severe”? Does it significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities for at least one year? If not, then you are not disabled. If yes, then the Social Security Administration will consider factor 3.
- Is your medical condition one of those described in the official “Listing of Impairments” found in the Social Security regulations? The Listing describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that a claimant whose condition meets a Listing Impairment is considered disabled by law. If your condition is not on this list, the Social Security Administration looks to see if your condition is as severe as (equal to) a condition on the list. If your impairment does not “meet or medically equal” a Listing Impairment, the Social Security Administration will move on to consider factor 4.
- Can you do the work you did before? If you can, then you are not disabled. If you cannot, then Social Security Administration will consider factor 5, the last factor in its evaluation process.
- Can you do any other kind of work? In answering this question, Social Security Administration considers vocational factors (your age, education, work experience, skills), as well as your medical condition. If you cannot do other work that is available in the Columbus metropolitan area or in significant numbers nationally, then you are disabled.
I looked for work, but no one would hire me because of my medical condition. Doesn’t that make me disabled?
Not necessarily. The Social Security Administration’s disability determination is hypothetical. That is, the Social Security Administration wants to know, “Hypothetically speaking, could you perform your previous work or any other type of work?” The real-world issues that concern you – for example, you are not able to get work; your industry has undergone technological or other changes; the economy is in a down cycle; the only jobs you could get don’t pay enough to support your family – do not concern the Social Security Administration.
How does the appeal process work, and is it really worth the time and effort?
Two levels of appeal are available to Ohio Social Security disability applicants, and, in most cases, it is well worth your time and effort to appeal. About 60% of all claims are denied the first time through the system. If your claim is denied, you may request reconsideration. If your reconsideration request is denied (and most are), you may request a hearing before a federal administrative law judge. Applicants who are persistent and who appeal their claim to the hearing level are awarded Ohio Social Security disability benefits more often than not.
For more information, you may also find helpful the series of short articles linked to in Your Disability Hearing.
Experienced Columbus disability attorney can help guide the way
Ohio Social Security disability benefits are available to disabled individuals who qualify under the law and who are able to navigate the system to collect what is rightfully theirs. We have been guiding applicants through the Social Security disability paperwork, red tape and bureaucracy for more than fourteen years. We provide legal representation to disabled individuals who have applied for Social Security benefits in the Columbus metropolitan area and throughout the state of Ohio. If you would like our counsel, please complete the Free Claim Evaluation form on the left side of this page, or email our office.
We wish you success.
Ohio Disability Attorney