An excellent summary of the sequential evaluation process is available online. The summary is excerpted from Social Security Disability Practice by Thomas E. Bush.
Here is the first section to get you started (I have added links for certain terms):
Under the five-step sequential disability evaluation process described in 20 C.F.R. §404.1520 the following must be proved by a claimant in order to be found disabled:
1. The claimant is not engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA); and
2. The claimant has a “severe” impairment; and
3. The impairment meets or “equals” one of the impairments described in the social security regulations known as the “Listing of Impairments”; or
4. Considering the claimant’s “residual functional capacity” (RFC), that is, what the claimant can still do even with his or her impairments, the claimant is unable to do “past relevant work” (PRW); and
5. Other work within the claimant’s RFC, considering age, education and work experience, does not exist in the national economy in significant numbers.
Watch out for the terms identified by quotation marks above and the initials that go with some of them. They have precise meanings in the regulations and rulings that are not necessarily the meanings one would expect. It will be necessary for you to learn these terms if you want to make sense out of social security regulations.
Whether you are a Social Security disability claimant or a claimant’s legal representative, you should take a few minutes to read the entire summary.