What is the Social Security Administration Looking For on your Disability Claim?

June 9, 2016 Published by

Social Security Disability AttorneyYou apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.  You are certain you are disabled.  You give the Social Security Administration all the medical information you have.  You go to the appointments they set up for you and then you receive the letter stating that they are denying you’re your Social Security Disability benefits.  What on earth is going on you say.  Well, take a deep breath and consider the following.  Though it might not help you much, statistically speaking you are in the  majority.  90% 0f all initial claims are denied.  So what are they looking for?  In order to understand this, you have to know that the Social Security Administration has two sets of rules they use when assessing your application for Social Security Disability benefits.  The first is called the Listing.  The second is called the Medical Vocational Guidelines, also known as the Grids.

The Listing of Impairments is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a list of injuries, illnesses and diseases.  If you have a listed medical issue, and your condition is severe enough (per the guidelines within the listing, you are considered disabled.  However, I am not talking about the listing.  I want to talk about the medical vocational guidelines.  If you do not have a listed medical issue, or your medical issue is not severe enough to meet the listing for disability, you must consider the medical vocational guidelines.

The grid is what it sounds like.  On the top of the grid is the kinds of work there are in the national economy divided into categories based on the amount of physical labor the job takes.  Thus the categories are Sedentary, light, medium, heavy and very heavy.  Sedentary jobs require the worker to be able to sit for up to 6 hours per day, walk/stand for up to 2 hours per day, to be able to lift less than 10 pounds frequently and to be able to speak and read English.

The other side of the grid, the part that goes from top to bottom, includes your age at time of disability, what kind of work skills you have, your education and what your body can still do despite its disabling conditions (aka residual functional capacity).  The younger you are, the more difficult it is to get disability benefits.  The better educated you are the more difficult it is to get disability benefits.  The more skills you have the more difficult it is to get disability benefits.

Ultimately, what the Social Security Administration is looking for is whether you can perform the simplest job that requires little physical exertion, that requires no complicated steps, that does not have quotas.  You are not considered disabled simply because you cannot do your old job.  You must be able to do any job.

I know this is a very simple description of a very complicated issue.  If you want to talk more about it, please give me a call at 317-639-5161.


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