The definition of disability is the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medical determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months (The Social Security Act). Judges deciding disability cases must follow a strict 5 step sequential evaluation to determine whether an individual is disabled or not.
In this blog post we will be focusing on the second step of the evaluation. The second step of the five-step evaluation process requires an individual to have a severe impairment or combination of impairments that have or are expected to last at least 12 continuous months or be expected to cause death. It is important to emphasize the word “severe” in this step. Moreover, an individual can be denied at step 2 if their impairment or impairments are considered not severe. SSA’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS) provides some guidance on what is considered severe. According to POMS, under step 2: “it must be determined whether medical evidence establishes a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments of sufficient severity as to be the basis of finding of inability to engage in substantial gainful activity SGA. When medical evidence establishes only a slight abnormal or a combination of slight abnormalities which would have no more than a minimum effect on the individual’s ability to work.” Therefore, it is essential you cooperate to provide all relevant medical evidence and keep your attorney informed as to any ongoing treatment, doctor visits, or other future medical appointments.