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  • Karen Howell, Esq.

Fibromyalgia and the 5 step Social Security Disability Evaluation Process


Step one requires that the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful activity. The record indicates that the claimant has not been engaged in such substantial gainful activity for at least the necessary duration of a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Next, the claimant must be found to have a medically determinable impairment that is “severe” or a combination of impairments that is “severe” (20 CFR 404.1520(c0 and 416.920(c)). The provision of the above medical evidence arguably meets the severity necessary to consider the claimant severely impaired on the basis of one or more objectively determined medical diagnoses.

At step three, the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments must meet or medically equal the criteria of an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926). If the claimant's impairment or combination of impariments equals the criteria of a listing and meets the duration requirement (20 CFR 404.1509 and 416.909), the claimant is disabled.

At step four, it must be determined whether the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the requirements of her past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)), that work in which the claimant was engaged within the last 15 years or 15 years prior to the date that disability must be established. If the claimant is unable to do any past releveant work, the analysis proceeds to the fifth step.

Finally, at step five, it must be determined whether the claimant is able to do any work considering her residual functional capacity, age, education, and work experience. If the claimant is not able to do other work and meets the duration requement, the claimant is disabled. If not, the Social Security Administration must provide evidence that demonstrates that other work exists in significant number in the national economy that the claimant can do (20 CFR 404.1512(g), 404.1560(c), 416.912 (g), and 416.960(c)).

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