Most claims for Social Security Disability Benefits are resolved at step five of the sequential evaluation process. Again, disability, according to the Social Security Administration, is defined as the the inabllity to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impariemnt 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.
The medical element, which must be severe, is generally not the final, determinative point. The medical impairment must be severe enough that the claimaint is not only unable to do his or her previous work, but cannot engage in ANY other substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy. The SSA will evaluate the claimant's ability to do substantial gainful activity based on his age, education, and work experience--along with his or her medical impairments.
Notably, the SSA does not require the work to exists in the immediate area in which the claimant lives, whether a job vacancy exists, or whether he or she would be hired if he or she applied. This is very important as we contine to examine step 5 of the sequential process.