The Social Security Administration (SSA) adheres to a five-step sequential evaluation procedure when deciding if an applicant is disabled for purposes of either of the two disability benefit programs mandated by SSA — Social Security disability or SSI. If it is determined that you are not eligible or not disabled during a certain step then the process ends and it does not continue to the next step. Those five steps are: the claimant is not participating in gainful, substantial activity, that a serious medically-determinable disability has been confirmed, that the disability meets or is equal to one of the impairments listed in the official regulations implemented by the Social Security Administration, you cannot carry out your previous occupational duties or you are unable (based on your impairment, training, and experience) able to perform other occupational duties.
Simply put, during the evaluation process, the Social Security Administration will take one thing into consideration: You meet an equal or exceeding level of what is classified as disabled for purpose of receiving benefits. If it is determined that you are eligible, you will receive notice that your application has been approved and you will soon begin receiving benefits.
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