Age and Residual Functional Capacity Are at Issue

A 51-year-old man who was a trucker for nearly 10 years before being injured in a slip and fall on the ice while at work, has received a fully favorable decision from the Social Security Administration and is now receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

Successful arguments in his case hinged not on his actual impairments, but on his age, his residual functional capacity (RFC), and the finding he is unable to perform any past relevant work and that his job skills don’t transfer to other jobs.

The man has a high school education. He has not worked since the slip and fall incident. He suffers from lumbar degenerative disk disease, stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. A number of medical issues center on his disk and cervical spine; surgery included an L4-5 bilateral decompressive laminectomy and an L4-5 bilateral diskectomy, as well as an interbody fusion with cages. He can only stand for short periods and his legs give out on him. Medications include Propoxyphene, Neurontin, Piroxican, and Carisprodol.

The judge had to determine if this client could do any other work (not just his past relevant work) “considering his residual functional capacity, age, education, and work experience,” and that this other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy. If he can do other work, he isn’t disabled. If he can’t do other work and meets the duration requirement he is disabled.

The judge found that the man has “a severe vertebrogenic disorder that significantly limits [his] physical ability to do basic work activity” and that this impairment “causes more than minimal functional limitations.”

The judge also found that the client does NOT have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals one of the SSA’s listings. He has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work, except he cannot sit for more than short periods of time and must have a sit/stand option at work.

In considering all the medical information assembled by Attorney Neil Good, the judge found the client is unable to perform any past relevant work, and that his job skills do not transfer to other occupations within the residual functional capacity. “Considering the claimant’s age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity, there are no jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform,” the judge ruled. The judge noted that if the client had the residual functional capacity to “perform the full range of sedentary work, considering (his) age, education, and work experience,” he would be found not disabled. “However, the additional limitations so narrow the range of work the claimant might otherwise perform that a finding of ‘disabled’ is appropriate under the framework on this rule.”