Even Young People Can be Disabled

At age 39, Jesus is considered “young” by Social Security Administration standards. He nonetheless won disability benefits, after being injured doing factory work in 2008.

The former machine operator, who also worked as a carpet installer, self-employed carpenter, and manager of an apartment complex, has a ninth-grade education.

After a hearing in front of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled Jesus has degenerative joint disease in both shoulders and was post-surgery for rotator cuff repairs. Those impairments do not equal or meet the severity of any listing, the judge ruled. But he lacks the residual functional capacity to lift more than is involved for sedentary work and also has significant bilateral arm limitations, including being unable to raise either arm about shoulder level. The judge noted, in fact, that Jesus needed two hands simply to lift a gallon of milk.

“He is unable to perform any past relevant work,” the judge ruled.

The judge noted in his decision Jesus’ young age and that Jesus is considered illiterate in English. “His acquired job skills to not transfer to occupations within the residual functional capacity defined above. Considering his age, education, work experience and RFC, jobs do not exist in significant numbers in the economy that he can perform,” the judge ruled.

Had Jesus the RFC to perform the full range of sedentary work, then his age, education, work experience, and the SSA’s medical-vocational rules would have compelled the judge to find Jesus not-disabled, he said.

Attorney Neil H. Good represented Jesus and prepared a pre-hearing memo that laid out all of Jesus’ medical issues and impairments. The memo included all the medical documentation relevant to his injury and disability.

After receiving his fully favorable decision, Jesus also began receiving monthly benefits for his two children. Benefits for one child ended when she turned 18.