Unlike workers compensation, when seeking Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, it is not necessary to establish that the cause of the disability resulted from work activity. Just as importantly, when seeking SSD benefits, it is not necessary to establish the exact cause of the inability to work.
I represent a 58 year old woman who used to work as a case manager for the juvenile court system. She had to stop working because of neck, shoulder, and back injuries. Among other things, the treating doctor said that those injuries precluded the claimant from lifting or carrying more than 5 pounds.
The claimant’s SSD application was approved today. The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) agreed that the claimant was disabled because of her inability to lift and carry. The ALJ indicated that while it was unclear which injury or injuries were responsible for the limited ability to lift and carry, it was evident that the claimant's ability was limited to five pounds.
While some disability benefits require establishing the etiology of the medical condition or what impairment renders the claimant disabled, SSD only requires establishing the existence of a medical condition that can reasonably be expected to cause the claimant’s limitations.