Number Two of the Social Security Administration’s Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process

The Social Security Administration uses a five-step evaluation process when determining one’s entitlement to disability benefits. Any Denver disability lawyer can tell you that Step Two of this process involves the Social Security Administration’s examination of whether you suffer from a severe impairment.

There Must Be a Severe Medically-Determinable Ailment

This step is especially used in order to eliminate claims that entail either no medically-determinable ailments or only minor medically-determinable ailments that yield insignificant limitations on one’s ability to hold a job.

Practically any decrease in a person’s residual functional capacity will meet the requirement that there be a severe medically-determinable ailment. That said, medically-determinable impairments have been split into two categories: slight “non-severe” impairments and severe impairments.

How Step Two Is Used

All symptoms (even the subjective ones) that stem from a medically-determinable ailment must be taken into account when evaluating whether or not that ailment (or collection of ailments) lowers a person’s ability to perform simple work functions. As any Denver disability lawyer can tell you, if a Social Security decision-maker can’t reach a clear-cut conclusion with respect to the effect that an ailment has on an individual’s ability to perform simple work functions, the decision-maker is required to move forward to the next step of the evaluation process.

Claimants should keep in mind, though, that the Social Security Administration’s rules and regulations clearly state that without there being a medically-determinable mental or physical impairment, no symptom (or combination thereof) can be the basis of a finding of disability.  Simply put, if the individual doesn’t suffer from a medically-determinable impairment, he or she cannot be deemed disabled at Step Two.

Still, as a general rule of thumb, if a physician has sufficient details to come up with a valid diagnosis, an individual will be deemed to have a medically-determinable impairment. Additionally, whenever more than one diagnosis exists and there is a question over which one is accurate, if the pertinent medical signs or lab findings demonstrate any level of irregularity, the claimant will be deemed to have a medically-determinable impairment, even where physicians don’t concur with respect to which diagnosis is paramount.

A Denver Disability Lawyer Can Help

If you have questions about your disability claim and the process used to make a determination, and you would like to speak with a Denver disability lawyer, please call John Cimino at (303) 830-7274 for a free consultation.