Social Security Disability Evaluation Process

When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate whether your medical condition is severe enough to qualify you for benefits. After reviewing your application to ensure that you meet basic requirements for disability benefits, the SSA will send your file to the Division of Disability Determination (DDD) under the Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC) in Ohio.  

DDD completes the disability decision, considering all of the facts in your case. DDD only determines your medical eligibility for disability benefits, not your legal or financial eligibility. Doctors and disability specialists in the state agency will ask your doctors as well as hospitals and clinics where you have been treated about your condition. They may ask about the following: 

    • What medical condition you have
    • When your medical condition began
    • How your medical condition limits your activities
    • The results of medical tests you’ve had
    • What treatments you are undergoing


Another thing they’ll discuss with your doctors is your ability to do work-related activities, such as walk, sit, carry, and lift. When evaluating a claimant’s medical condition, the SSA requires that the issues be addressed in a specific order to ensure that everyone gets the same consideration. DDD uses the following 5-step evaluation process to determine whether you qualify for benefits:


Step 1: Are you working?

If you are working and earning more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount, you may be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits. If you are working, your earnings must be below the monthly SGA amount.


Step 2: Is your condition severe?

At this stage, DDD will evaluate whether your medical condition significantly limits your ability to perform basic work activities. Your medical condition must also be expected to result in death or have lasted or be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.


Step 3: Is your condition listed in the blue book?

The blue book is the SSA’s list of more than 150 impairments. These listings are considered severe enough to render a person unable to work. You will be considered disabled if you meet or equal a listing’s criteria.


Step 4: Are you able to perform work you did in the past?

If you’re able to perform work you did in the past despite your impairment, you will be denied of benefits. If you are unable to perform past relevant work, DDD proceeds to the final step.


Step 5: Are you able to do any other type of work?

DDD considers your age, education, work experience, and physical and mental condition to determine whether there are other kinds of work you’re able to perform. If DDD determines that you’re unable to transition to any other type of work in the national economy, then you will be granted disability benefits. Keep in mind that DDD doesn’t have to find you a job in order to deny your claim. All they need to do is determine whether there are sufficient jobs available that you are capable of doing.


Contact Our Ohio Social Security Disability Lawyers

Whether you’re just beginning the Social Security disability claims process or your application has been denied, our attorneys can help you obtain the disability benefits to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, simply give us a call at (614) 545-9998 or contact us online.



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What Our Clients Say

Patrick Monday, April 2, 2018 A special thank you to Jones Law Group attorneys Kevin Larrimer and Nick Kolitsos for helping me with my STRS disability claim. They are both very competent and well versed in Ohio STRS disability law and were able to succeed in my claim where I was unable on my own. […]

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