Do not underestimate the importance of podiatrists when applying for disability benefits. Perhaps claimants frequently overlook podiatrists because foot problems are not the primary impairment.
I represent a 55 year school crossing guard with back and feet problems, who was awarded Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits today without a hearing. The decision rejected the opinion of the State agency doctors, who said the claimant should be able to work because they failed to consider the combined effect of the claimant’s foot and back problems.
I had obtained a report from the treating podiatrist that limited the claimant’s ability to stand and walk due to a heel spur and plantar fasciitis. Every job requires being on one’s feet to some degree, and according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (the “DOT”), a crossing guard must be on her feet for at least 6 hours a work day.
It is unclear if the claimant would have been approved for SSD benefits in the absence of the podiatrist’s report. However, it is fairly clear that the claimant probably would have needed to proceed to a hearing in order to have get her SSD award.