When a New Jersey resident is applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, part of the process is the sequential evaluation. This is when the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess the claim based on certain criteria and determine if the applicant can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). Should there be a point where the SSA finds that the applicant’s SSD benefits for injury application does not meet the necessary criteria, there will be a denied claim.
Knowing when an impairment is defined as severe is important, but so too is it wise to understand the definition of a not severe impairment. Even if there is a finding that the injury is not of sufficient severity, there are steps a person can take and keep trying to get approved.
The determination as to whether the impairment is of sufficient severity or not is the second part of the sequential evaluation. This is when it will be assessed as to whether the medical evidence shows that the person’s impairment(s) result in them being unable to perform SGA. If the evidence shows that the person is only suffering from a slight abnormality or the combination of issues will not have more than a minimal impact on being able to work, these will be declared as not severe and the person will not be found disabled.
In such a case, vocational considerations will not be factored in. The age, abilities, education and work experience will then not be part of the process. Therefore, when a person is minimally educated, is advancing in years and has limited work experience, the impairment will not be considered sufficient to be declared disabled as they can still do SGA. The claim will subsequently be denied.
While this could be perceived as negative for a person who is suffering from a disability that has resulted in an inability to work, it does not automatically mean the case is over and they should not continue trying. Before applying, it is a smart decision to understand the sequential evaluation process and SGA. Even after applying and receiving a denial based on the impairment labeled as not severe, having legal help is critical to appeal. A law firm that handles Social Security Disability claims should be called for advice.