Most Social Security disability are decided on a medical-vocational basis. To be awarded disability benefits, you first must be unable to perform your past relevant work. Additionally, you must be unable to do other work that exists in substantial numbers in the national economy. This is step 5 of Social Security’s 5-step sequential evaluation.
I talk with prospective clients almost every day. And often, there is a misunderstanding regarding the requirement to be unable to perform “other work.”
For those under age 50, even an unskilled sedentary job must be beyond your current abilities. So if you were a construction worker, for example, and have no training for a desk-type job, it does not matter. You do not qualify for disability benefits if you have still the physical and mental ability to perform unskilled sedentary work. Thousands of disability claims are denied by Social Security on this basis.
For those age 55 or older, there are some helpful rules at step 5, because your age is a relevant vocational factor. But disability is by no means automatic for those over age 55.
Let me give you an example. I talked with an former commerical airline pilot recently. He can’t be a pilot anymore, which is obviously a very high performing job, due to moderate depression and insomnia. But even at age 58, that former pilot is quite able to other work. The medical-vocational guidelines do not automatically direct a finding of “disabled” for such a claim.
While the medical-vocational rules often assist those over 55, those rules alone do not make for a successful claim. That is why those age 55 or over may benefit the most from having a Social Security disability lawyer involved at the very beginning of the claim process.
Get help from a lawyer with your disability claim
If you are considering an application for Social Security disability benefits, or have already applied and want assistance with your claim, please contact Gordon Gates for a free consultation.