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Exceptions to the Five-Step Sequential Evaluation


The five-step sequential process establishes two “routes” for finding a claimant disabled enough to receive Social Security disability benefits. If you fail to meet the requirements of this evaluation process, you may still qualify for disability benefits if you fit one of the three exceptions. An experienced Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney can guide you in determining whether you can be fond disabled without proceeding to step five of the sequential evaluation process.

One exception that is not commonly known is the “worn-out worker” rule. You will qualify under this exception if you have no more than a marginal education, work experience of 35 years or more doing “arduous unskilled physical labor,” and you are no longer working as a result of a severe impairment. This exception is not typically utilized in determining disability because same results will be met by utilizing the Medical Vocational Guidelines developed by the Social Security Administration. However, it is an important rule because this type of worker will be found disabled at the medium exertion level.

Another exception involves a claimant who: (1) has a severe, medically determinable impairment; (2) is 55 years or older; (3) has an 11th grade education or less; and (4) has no past relevant work experience.

The final exception applies to a claimant who: is not working at a substantially gainful activity level; has a lifetime commitment of 30 years or more to a field of work that is unskilled (or skilled with no transferable skills); is closely approaching retirement age; and has no more than a limited education.

Your Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney can closely review your medical documentation to determine if you can qualify for disability benefits under any of these exceptions.

Even though the Social Security Administration may have determined that you are disabled, you may still be found NOT disabled in two situations:

  1. You fail to follow prescribed treatment. This applies to situations where your treating physician has prescribed a treatment that is clearly expected to restore your ability to work.
  2. Drug addiction or alcoholism has played a major factor in rendering you disabled. This issue will only be addressed after the Social Security Administration has determined that you are disabled by considering your symptoms.

The Social Security disability claims process includes many nuances and complex rules and regulations. It is imperative that you consult with a reputable Social Security disability attorney when applying or appealing for disability benefits. Call experienced Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney Chantal Harrington for a free consultation.


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