Friday, May 16, 2014

Disability Etiology

When seeking Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, establishing the etiology of why you cannot work is not required. What is required is that you show you that the restrictions and limitations caused by the medical problem prevent you from being able to work. 

A 31 year old clerk retained me after her SSD application was denied. The State agency had denied the claimant’s benefits on the grounds that the medical reports did not show any conditions of a nature that would prevent her from working. 

At the ensuing hearing, the Administration Law Judge (“ALJ”) found it baffling that none of the doctors could determine the cause or a diagnosis of the claimant’s symptoms, which included pain and weakness, and was considering adjourning the hearing so a medical expert could testify. After I pointed out that the claimant’s symptoms were accompanied by objective findings, such as the claimant’s skin turning purple and cold, and joint and muscle swelling, the ALJ took testimony from a vocational expert (“VE”). 

The ALJ asked the VE if the claimant could work based on the restrictions and limitations provided by the treating physicians or the consultative examiner, to which the VE said no. Based on the VE’s testimony, the ALJ approved the case. In other words, it was irrelevant that the claimant was unable to establish the cause of why she was unable to work, all that mattered was that as a result of her medical problems she was unable to perform the physical demands of work.

No comments: