How Does Social Security Decide My Claim?

Social Security Disability Sequential Evaluation


Step 1: SGA

SSA will determine if you are working above Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). SGA is a monthly dollar amount established by SSA to help them determine if your condition(s) are impacting your ability to provide for yourself financially. The SGA amount changes year to year. For 2019 the SGA limit is $1220 per mo. or if you are blind the SGA amount is $2040 

If your monthly income is below the SGA limit, your claim proceeds to the next step.

Step 2: Medical Severity

Step 2  SSA will identify whether a medical condition or combination of conditions is severe.  An individual must have a medically determinable impairments that is severe and meets the duration requirement. 

Severity is determined on whether or not the impairments, which can be physical or mental, interfere with basic work-related activities.

Duration, for SSA, means the conditions must be expected to last 12 months or end in death. 

if the impairments are severe, your claim moves to step 3 of the process. 

Step 3: Listings

Step 3 is where SSA determines whether a persons conditions meet any of their "listings". The Listings are literally a list of medical conditions with criteria that must be present in order to be found disabled. (See SSA Blue Book which contains the Listings and more details.)

If your impairments do not meet, or equal, any of the criteria in the "Listings" then SSA will proceed to the next step of the evaluation process.

Step 4: PRW

PRW or Past Relevant Work is the step where SSA determines whether or not someone can still do their past work. SSA will consider whether you have the physical and/or mental capacity to perform any of your PRW done in the last 15 years. If it is determined that you are capable of doing any PRW that you have done in the last 15 years, SSA will determine that you are not disabled.

If you cannot do PRW, the claim proceeds to step 5 of the process. 

Step 5: RFC

RFC or Residual Functional Capacity is the most one can do despite their impairments. this final step is where SSA will consider your age, education and past work experience to determine your capability to work a different job. If SSA determines someone is capable of working a different job, given their age and work experience and education, then SSA will find them not to be disabled. 

If it is determined that an individual is incapable of working in another job, he/she will be found disabled.  



Substantial Gainful Activity

Monthly Income Numbers

Year     Blind      Not Blind

2019     2,040       1,220

2018     1,970        1,180

2017     1,950        1,170

2016     1,820        1,130

2015     1,820        1,090



Compassionate Allowances

Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security's standards for disability benefits. These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. The CAL initiative helps us reduce waiting time to reach a disability determination for individuals with the most serious disabilities.  
The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances to quickly make decisions.  Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the same rules to evaluate CAL conditions when evaluating both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

All of this information can be found at

For more information click the link below (this link was applied 6-19-19)

Property tax exemption for disabled veterans


Many states offer property tax exemptions for disabled veterans, however each state and each veterans situation is different. 

-exemptions can include, veterans, disabled veterans and those over 65

-not every homeowner or veteran will qualify

-exemptions may vary by county or state

-exemptions may require annual renewal 

The rest of the article can be found by clicking on the action button below which will also show a complete list of the tax breaks offered by each state!