California residents can be awarded disability benefits when the Social Security Administration determines that they are no longer able to perform gainful work in a substantial way. Disability claims are evaluated using a five-step process. The SSA first eliminates applicants who are still working and then examines medical records and other supporting evidence to determine if the applicant has a medically verifiable mental or physical impairment.

Once a physical or mental disability has been established, the SSA evaluates the condition using criteria laid down in the Disability Evaluation handbook, which is also known as the blue book. When these standards are met, claims are medically approved and disability benefits are authorized. When medical conditions do not meet these standards, the SSA evaluates the applicant’s ability to work during the final two steps. The overwhelming majority of applicants do not have disabilities that satisfy the blue book criteria.

During the fourth step, the SSA looks at the work performed by the applicant during the past 15 years and then determines whether or not the disability involved would make returning to these jobs or similar jobs impossible. This is done by comparing the applicant’s remaining capabilities with the demands of the work. This is why medical evidence is so important in disability cases. Step five involves determining if the applicant is capable of performing other kinds of work based on factors such as age, education and workplace skills. Applicants who are able to return to their old jobs or find other types of gainful employment are unlikely to be approved for SSDI benefits.

Research has revealed that almost three in four Social Security Disability Insurance claims are initially denied. Attorneys with experience in this area may help those in this situation by reviewing their claims. When necessary, attorneys could also file paperwork with the Social Security Appeals Council and in a federal district court.