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An error in the Explanation of Determination attached to your denial letter can present an opportunity for your Social Security disability attorney to practice some legal jujitsu. The error can be used to support an argument for reversal at the next stage of review. This argument is the most powerful when, but for the error in analysis, the claim should be granted.

For example, I have a new client who recently received his initial denial letter from Social Security. The explanation stated that the claimant cannot do his past work, but concluded that there is other work involving less strenuous lifting that the claimant could perform. That's standard step 5 language.

The problem with that analysis is that this claimant is almost 60 years old. Once you rule out past relevant work, if you limit a 60 year old claimant to jobs with no heavy lifting, that claimant must be found disabled (in the absence of transferable skills or education that leads to direct entry to skilled work) under Social Security's own Medical-Vocational Guidlelines.

This claim should be granted. A 60 year old claimant with an unskilled work background grids "disabled" even at the medium exertional level. {correction: actually, not quite. To grid "disabled" at the medium exertional level, a claimant must have an unskilled work background and a limited education or less. See Rule 203.02}

A recent article by Jericho, NY disability attorney Jeffrey Delott started me thinking more about this issue. Jeff wrote that he always highlights the defects in the explanation when he makes an on the record request at the hearing level.  Jeff's blog is always interesting reading, since most of his articles involve actual case stories. The blog also has a spiffy new design.