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How to Use Social Security’s Rules to Your Advantage

Author: Webmaster / August 8, 2016 / Categories:

Are You At Least Fifty Years Old? Use “The Grid” to Your Advantage!

Social Security defines the term disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” To put this more simply, an individual is not considered disabled as long as he or she has the mental and physical ability to perform any job that exists in sufficient numbers in the national economy of the United States. And when the Social Security Administration says “any job” you better believe that they mean exactly that.

So, the question is, assuming that you can no longer do any of the work that you did in the past but you can perform a different job (that often times may not require you to exert yourself as much) are you not considered disabled? For the most part, the answer will be no, you are not…unless you meet certain disability criteria found in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, also known as “the Grid”.

What is the Grid?

In order to determine whether you are disabled, Social Security examines the status of your residual functional capacity, (the state of your physical and mental ability to work after taking into account your medical impairments) your age, your education and your previous work experience. Social Security will often compare these categories against a set of guidelines, called the Medical-Vocational guidelines, to determine an individual’s disability. Although they will examine each state of your medical condition and past work experience, they will look primarily at your physical ability to do work. To make this process easier, the categories and guidelines have been arranged in the form of a grid, which you can review here: http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-ap11.htm.

How Can I Use the Grid to My Advantage?

Individuals who are 50 years old or more and who have had past relevant work involving duties with heavy exertion can often find an advantage with using the Grid to claim their disability. So, for example, if a 50 year old person with a high school education whose past relevant work involved heavy lifting or exertion is now limited to a sit down job where the skills he has acquired during his working history are not usable, he or she could still be found disabled. Imagine that; a person has the capacity to do a job but is still awarded disability benefits, courtesy of Social Security’s own rules!

Keep in mind that the grid does not apply in all cases. The Social Security Administration is often very particular about awarding disability based on the grid’s guidelines. However, it does give an almost automatic advantage to Social Security Disability claimants that are at least 50 years old and have done past work that required more exertion than jobs requiring sitting for most of the day.

As always, it is important for you to work with your doctors in establishing your physical limitations (as opposed to just verifying your medical conditions) in order to prove that you cannot do your past relevant work. Once you prove that, the grid can be your way to being approved for disability benefits.

The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.

How to Use Social Security’s Rules to Your Advantage
Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
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