Thursday, March 27, 2014

Benefits Turned On Vocational Error

I represent a machinist whose application for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits was approved today after the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) corrected a vocational error made by a State agency examiner named J. Nimrod. The state agency makes the initial decision whether to approve SSD benefits. 

Nimrod stated that the claimant’s past relevant work included a position as a “clerical/secretarial worker,” which would be a sedentary job. The problem is that Nimrod’s statement was untrue. As made explicitly clear in the claimant’s application, the only job she had was as a machinist. 

Even though the claimant stated that she only had one job during the last 20 years, Nimrod made her complete Form 3369, which is only to be completed if a claimant had more than one job during the last 15 years. The claimant completed the form, and confirmed that her occupation was not sedentary or light, but was medium, because she was on her feet up to 8 hours a day, sat only 1-2 hours a day, and lifted up to 50 lbs, including 25 lbs frequently. 

Under the medical-vocational rule that applied to the claimant’s situation, if her past work was as a machinist, and she were limited to sedentary work, then she would be entitled to SSD benefits. The ALJ agreed that the claimant’s sole past relevant work was as a machinist. Because the ALJ also agreed that the claimant only had a sedentary work capacity, and was therefore unable to do her past medium work as a machinist, her benefits were approved.

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