When most West Virginia workers consider filing for Social Security Disability benefits, they have little understanding of the process. It is commonly assumed that if one has worked for most of their life and can no longer do so due to a mental or physical disability, SSD benefits will be awarded. That may or may not be the case, but the manner that the Social Security Administration uses to determine disability is a specific, sequential process governed by complex statutes and prior decisions.
Disability experts can explain that although a claimant may not be working, that is only the beginning of the SSD analysis. Next, the nature of the impairment the claimant is suffering from is considered and evaluated, and if it is not deemed sufficiently severe, the claim will be denied. If the impairment is severe, the type of activity the claimant is capable of becomes relevant. Functional limitations are how the specific impairment the claimant has restricts his or her ability to perform specific physical or mental functions.
Ultimately, what the disability examiner is seeking is information regarding what the claimant is able to do despite the limitations of the claimed impairment. Based on that conclusion, the examiner will determine if the claimant is capable of doing the claimant's most recent job, any jobs performed within the last 15 years, or any jobs that may exist in the economy.
In consideration of the nature of the SSD process, it may come as no surprise that SSD benefits are denied in well over half of initial applications and again upon the first appeal level called reconsideration. Fortunately, there are several levels of appeal in which an experienced Social security disability lawyer might be of assistance in potentially achieving a positive result.