Proving that you are disabled under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines can be difficult, but as applicants become older this process can become easier. This is because the SSA recognizes that it can be difficult for people to learn a new skill or transition to a new workplace later in life.
The SSA may not expect an applicant to transition to a new line of work depending on a number of factors. The SSA will consider:
- An applicant’s age;
- If the applicant is unable to perform work he or she has done in the past;
- The applicant’s education and physical abilities.
If the applicant’s disability or impairment does not meet the severity of the SSA’s medical listings, the SSA will apply one of its medical vocational rules – otherwise known as a grid rule (since the rules are presented in a grid format).
Determining if a grid rule will apply to a SSD case
Several aspects about an applicant are considered when determining if a grid rule will be applied to a certain case. First, an applicant’s age is considered. Generally, an applicant must be over 50 years of age for a grid rule to apply. Second, an applicant’s level of education is evaluated. Third, an applicant’s skill level or residual functional capacity (RFC) is assessed to establish the level of work the applicant can perform based on his or her strength and endurance. There are five categories of RFC
- sedentary work
- light work
- medium work
- heavy work
- very heavy work
Grid Rules for Sedentary work
The chart below outlines how the SSA would apply the grid rules to an applicant who was capable of performing sedentary work. Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally carrying or lifting items such as docket files, ledgers, and small tools. While a sedentary job is considered to be one that mostly involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary to carry out sedentary job duties.
RFC for Sedentary Work for a Claimant Approaching Advanced Age (50-54)
|Limited or less||Unskilled or none||Disabled|
|Limited or less||Skilled or semiskilled, skills not transferable||Disabled|
|Limited or less||Skilled or semiskilled, skills transferable||Not disabled|
|High school graduate or more-no training for direct entry into skilled work||Unskilled or none||Disabled|
|High school graduate or more, with training for direct entry into skilled work||Unskilled or none||Not disabled|
|High school graduate or more, but no training for direct entry into skilled work||Skilled or semiskilled, skills not transferable||Disabled|
|High school graduate or more, but no training for direct entry into skilled work||Skilled or semiskilled, skills transferable||Not disabled|
|High school graduate or more, with training for direct entry into skilled work||Skilled or semiskilled, skills not transferable||Not disabled|
How the SSA applies the grid rules
Here is an example of how the SSA would apply these rules: The claimant was a 53-year old woman who applied for SSDI benefits because of her type-2 diabetes and heart disease. The claimant had a high school education and previously worked as a sorter in a factory doing unskilled work. The SSA decided to apply the grid rules for sedentary rules for claimants approaching advanced age. The SSA found her to be disabled because she only had unskilled work experience and no other recent job training.
In future posts we will outline the categories of RFC in further detail. You may also be interested in a previous post we published about the difference between impairment listings and medical vocational guidelines.
Do you need assistance with your SSD Case? Consider the law office of Attorney Neil H. Good for your legal representation. Contact us online for a free case evaluation or call #(847) 577-4476.