Monday, May 21, 2012

Vocational Evidence

The importance of vocational information should not be neglected when seeking disability benefits. I represent a 57 year old nurse’s aide with back and hip problems, whose application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was approved today four months after it was filed. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) did not even ask the claimant to be examined by IMA Disability Services.

Countless people with back and hip problems seek SSD benefits, and the majority of them are required to be examined by Social Security doctors and are denied. The difference here was the vocational information. The claimant was over 55, and lacked a high school education. Most importantly, the claimant’s past work was as a nurse’s aide.

According to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”), which the SSA uses, the claimant’s past work resembled the DOT description of a nurse assistant. There are three reported SSD cases that addressed whether a nurse assistant has transferable skills, and each held that there are none. I made it clear from the outset that under these circumstances, even if the claimant had the ability to perform light work, which required lifting up to 20 pounds and being on one’s feet for most of the work day, the claimant would still have to be found disabled under the SSA rules.

The people at the State agencies who make the initial SSD decisions can overlook the SSA rules. Highlighting the applicable rule can avoid an exam by IMA, which saves everyone money, and can expedite getting approved for SSD benefits.

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