It is just as important to understand the role that vocational evidence plays in securing disability benefits as it is to understand the role that medical evidence plays. Vocational evidence is critical when it comes to applying the medical-vocational rules, known as the “Grids,” when applying for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits.
I represent a 59 year old janitor whose SSD application was approved in three months based on the Grids. Janitorial work is considered “heavy” and unskilled work. If a 59 year old person’s past relevant work consists of heavy and unskilled work, then he or she is entitled to SSD benefits even if able to perform “light” work. Among other things, light work requires the ability to be on your feet for most of the work day, and lifting up to 20 pounds for a third of the day. That means that the claimant must be able to do at least “medium” work to be found not disabled. Medium work requires the ability to lift up to 50 pounds.
By highlighting the applicable Grid rule, I made it clear to the Social Security Administration (the "SSA") that it would be very difficult to reject the claimant’s SSD application. The SSA obviously took note as it approved SSD benefits in only three months. The claimant’s application would not have been approved so quickly if the significance of the vocational evidence were disregarded.