Step 5: Can the Claimant Perform Other Work?

At this point in the Sequential Evaluation, the burden shifts from the claimant to the government:

  • At Step 4, claimants must show that they are no longer well enough to return to the kind of work they used to do.
  • At Step 5, the government must grant them disability benefits unless there is other work they can do.

An Administrative Law Judge determines whether there exists a significant "number of jobs in the national economy" that the claimant could still do, despite his/her impairments. The ALJ uses one of two methods in this determination:

Note that the jobs just have to "exist." There may be no openings; in fact, there may be none of these jobs in the claimant's area. The claimant may be unable to pass the physical examination, unable to get hired, or unable to reach the workplace. None of this matters.


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