Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vocational Evidence Determinative

I have discussed the important role that vocational evidence plays in a Social Security Disability (“SSD”) case many times. I represent a 57 year old with knee, back, and foot problems whose SSD application was approved today five months after it was filed. 

The claimant’s medical conditions are not uncommon. Therefore, the question arises as to why his SSD application was approved without ever being denied, especially in this environment where the SSA is trying to increase the number of applications it denies. For example, in 2009, Administrative Law Judges approved 63% of their cases, whereas now they are only approving 45%, and rumor has it that their goal is to reduce that even lower to 33%. 

While many claimants may have knee, back, and foot problems, very few have a work history limited to unskilled heavy work, which requires lifting up to a 100 pounds. Under the grid rules, a person who is over 55 whose past relevant work is unskilled and heavy, should be found disabled. In other words, SSD claimants with the identical medical conditions with the same level of severity, but who are younger or had a skilled or less strenuous work history, probably would not have been approved.

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