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Gordon Gates specializes in Social Security disability law, and he handles claims at every level of the Social Security disability claim process. He assists clients with initial applications for disability benefits, with appeals of denied claims, and with hearings by an administrative law judge.

Gordon has successfully appealed unfavorable administrative law judge decisions the Social Security Appeals Council and to U.S. District Court (District of Maine) to have those claims remanded for new hearings.

Gordon attended Maine Maritime Academy and Tulane University Law School. At Tulane, he served as Senior Articles Editor of the Tulane Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. He was admitted to practice law in Maine in 1991. Since 2005, he has concentrated his law practice on Social Security disability and SSI cases.

Gordon is the publisher of Social Security Disability Lawyer, a nationally-read legal blog. He presented at the Fall 2010 conference of National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) on the topic of Writing Hearing Briefs for the ALJ.

As dedicated readers know, at Step 5 of the disability sequential evaluation, Social Security uses the Medical-Vocational Guidliness to determine disability. The guidelines, or “grids,” direct a finding of “disabled” or “not disabled” based upon a person’s age, physical RFC, education and past work/transferable skills.

If the medical-vocational guidlines direct a result of “disabled,”

Effective today, December 1, 2022, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) have been amended to include Supplemental Rules for Social Security Civil Actions under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

According to NOSSCR’s email to its members, highlights of the new rules include:

Pleading Requirements for the Complaint
Under the new FRCP Rule 2, a complaint

Disability Determination Services (DDS) state agencies make initial and reconsideration determinations on Social Security disability claims. These agencies have had massive turnover in the past few years. I used to work repeatedly with the same group of disability examiners. These days, I am constantly seeing new examiners. Adding to the turnover problem, it takes months

An ALJ decison regarding TItle II disability usually contains a sentence like this:

The claimant’s earnings record shows that the claimant has acquired sufficient quarters of coverage to remain insured through December 31, 2024.

A successful disability claimant may read that sentence and think that it means that the Social Security disability benefits will terminate

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is the amount of money that one can earn and still qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The amount is adjusted each year for inflation, as shown by this table. In 2022, the amount is $1,350. For 2023, the amount goes up to 1,470.

The SGA amount is important for

Last month, my hearings with an administrative law judge (ALJ) to determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability benefits followed the usual, familiar pattern: opening remarks by the judge and then the claimant’s lawyer (me), the claimant’s testimony, and then testimony of a vocational witness regarding the claimant’s past relevant work, and whether various functional