Thursday, March 15, 2007

Benefits Despite Working

There are many circumstances where a person can work, yet still be entitled to disability benefits. Yesterday, a court ruled just that in Miano v. Barnhart, a case where I represented the plaintiff against the Social Security Administration (the “SSA”).

The SSA argued that the plaintiff alleged she became disabled on April 26, 2000. However, both the plaintiff’s application and Disability Report averred that her disability onset date was February 19, 1997.

Plaintiff admitted that she worked at Kohl’s as a stock clerk for about four months until April 26, 2000, where she earned less than $800 in 1999 and less than $900 in 2000. However, the plaintiff made clear that February 1997 was her disability onset date because the Kohl’s work was an unsuccessful work attempt. The SSA refused to address the plaintiff’s arguments that her work at Kohl’s constituted either an unsuccessful work attempt or a trial work period, or was not substantial gainful activity, either of which would allow benefits.

Kohl’s terminated Plaintiff in less than 6 months because her work was unsatisfactory due to her impairments. Therefore, the Court agreed that the plaintiff’s work at Kohl’s could be an unsuccessful work attempt. Moreover, because the amount earned was so low, the Court also agreed that the plaintiff’s work at Kohl’s probably was not substantial gainful activity either. Accordingly, the Court refused to uphold the SSA’s decision denying benefits.

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