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Montana disability attorneys explain who is likely to qualify for Social Security disability benefits

Roughly two-thirds of claimants who apply are denied Social Security disability.  Montana residents will encounter the same odds.  But applying should be considered only the first of several necessary steps, for over half of Montana Social Security claimants who appeal their denials will ultimately be awarded Social Security disability benefits.

Who is eligible for Social Security disability benefits in Montana?

Age, education, recent jobs, and most important, ability to work, are what count the most in evaluations of Montana Social Security disability claimants.  However, the Social Security disability determination process is complex, riddled with puzzling inconsistencies, and hard on those who proceed without the guidance of a Montana Social Security lawyer.

The Social Security Administration, in Montana and nationally, uses a five-step disability evaluation process.  The following simplified introduction to the Social Security disability sequential evaluation process contains words in quotes that have special meaning to the Social Security Administration.

1. Are you working?

If you have a job that pays you more than $1,000 per month and involves more than minimum duties, the Social Security Administration will find that you are doing “substantial gainful activity” and thus are not disabled.

2. What is the state of your physical and mental health?

The Social Security Administration will find you not disabled if you do not have a “severe impairment.”  Your impairment or impairments must materially limit your ability to perform basic work functions like:

(a) sitting, standing, reaching, pulling, pushing, carrying, handling, and lifting;
(b) reacting correctly to the usual work situations, co-workers, and supervisors; (c) handling normal changes in the work setting;
(d) understanding, remembering, and performing simple instructions;
(e) hearing, seeing, and speaking; and
(f) application of judgment.

3. Do you have a listed impairment?

The Social Security Administration will find you disabled if your impairment (a) meets or “equals” one of the impairments described in the Listing of Impairments (found in the Social Security regulations) and (b) has lasted or is expected to last more than a year.

4. Can you still do one of your recent jobs?

You are not disabled in the eyes of the Social Security Administration if you can still do “your past relevant work.”  You must prove that you are unable to do any work which you have performed in the last 15 years.  In making its evaluation, the Social Security Administration will compare your current ability to work, or “residual functional capacity,” to the mental and physical demands of your easiest job.

5. Can you perform other work?

Are you able to do other jobs that exist in the economy in significant numbers?  Your age, education, work experience, and remaining work capacity are the key factors considered at this step.  The older you are, the easier it is to qualify under the Social Security Administration’s rules.

Additional information about qualifying for Social Security disability from the Social Security lawyers

You will find many answers to your questions about Social Security disability in the 100+ pages on this website, including:

Should you apply?

  • If Social Security disability is a new topic for you, our answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Montana Social Security disability offer a good introduction.
  • The Are You Likely to Qualify video delivers a concise verbal introduction to disability determination.
  • 9 Tips for Applying provides more information on what the Social Security Administration seeks before awarding benefits.
  • To learn how the Social Security Administration evaluates particular impairments and obtain valuable medical opinion forms, go to our Library below and see Applying for Disability Benefits When….

Have you received a denial of your application?

  • Practical advice may be found in our free e-booklet, Appealing a Denial of Benefits, located in the upper right-hand corner of this page.
  • Read the articles in Your Disability Hearing, locatedin our Library below, for an inside look at the stage of the disability determination process where you are most likely to win.
  • To hear how an administrative law judge will evaluate your eligibility, see the top of this page for our video How the Judge Determines Disability.

How to decide whether to pursue Social Security disability

Though the disability evaluation process can be lengthy and complicated, the question in front of you is a simple one:  “Do you believe you are unable to work?”

If so, we recommend you seek Social Security disability with assistance from an experienced Montana Social Security attorney.  As is to be expected when dealing with a large government bureaucracy like the Social Security Administration, the rules are numerous, the processes complex, and the hurdles many.

A Social Security attorney used to navigating the shoals of disability determination can be invaluable in explaining the system, reducing the inevitable frustration, and improving your odds of success.

Get help from the Montana Social Security disability law firm

If you live in Montana or surrounding states and want assistance with your application for Social Security disability benefits or appealing a denial, we can help.

Please provide a brief description of your claim using the form to the right, and we will respond promptly.  Or you may contact us at: