Stephanie O. Joy, Esq.
Part 5 - SSA's Sequential Evaluation Process - Multi-Part Series - "Any Other Work Able?"
Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Note: This article is for general information only and is not legal advice to any particular reader or individual. For legal advice, you must specifically retain a lawyer.
As noted by the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are 5 overall steps, in sequence, that must be negotiated, when determining if someone is "disabled" under the SSA laws, rules and regulations. See Steps One, Two, Three and Four of this multi-part series. If the SSA has determined that your claim continues to be evaluated based on your situation being reviewed under Steps 1-4, the last being that you are unable to perform you prior work of the last 15 years, it moves on to Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.
5. Can you do any other type of work?
Is there "other work you could do despite your medical impairment(s)[?] [The SSA will] consider your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have." If you can’t do other work, it will find you are disabled. If it finds you can do other work full time, your claim will be denied.
Many people express surprise (and dismay) when they learn that proving one can't do her prior occupation is not going to result in an award of SSD or SSI. But yes, SSD/SSI requires, further, that you can't work full time at all*, not merely that you can't work at your chosen line of work full time anymore. It also does not take into account the likelihood that other less arduous occupations that you may be able to perform full time will not pay a salary or wage close to what you are used to.
The Sequential Process does not discriminate in favor of higher income earners over lower income earners. For example, if a high income earner used to earning $100,000 annual salary in a very complicated occupation can no longer physically stand for the required 8 hours of standing for that prior job, but could mentally and physically do a sedentary sit down job that pays $12/hour or $24,000 year, he will be found NOT DISABLED. This is because he is not disabled from all* occupations. His prior higher income expectation does not give him a pass in the world of SSD law. He is treated the same as a low income earner.
Note: When referring to "other work", the general rule is that of full time occupations that exist in "significant numbers" in the national or regional economy. Thus, if you can only do a very special, rare job, of which there are only 3 such positions in the country, this would not be existing in 'significant" numbers and as such, if there were no other occupations you could do, you would be found DISABLED despite there being such occupation you could perform full time. https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-1566.htm
For a free Attorney-Level Disability Evaluation and possible attorney representation, we welcome you to fill out the very short Free Disability Evaluation Form. Or, feel free to call 201-317-0610.