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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.

When a claimant is a “working supervisor,” such as a lead carpenter on a construction site, Social Security may have additional questions about that supervisory, managerial, clerical or administrative work:

  • What was the nature and extent of claimant’s supervision?
  • Did claimant actually do the work or just oversee?
  • If did the work, what percentage of

Transferable skills are getting attention across the board in Social Security disability claims. I am particularly seeing transferable skills analyzed more frequently in DDS determinations.

At the DDS level, transferable skills are assessed with reference to POMS DI 25015.017

The POMS treatment of transferable skills is a great starting point for your review. If the concept of transferable skills is new to you, or you need a refresher, read the POMS section on transferable skills first. At the hearing level, see Social Security Ruling 82-41.

Continue Reading Transferable Skills

An important aspect of your past relevant work is the skills you may have learned on the job. In the context of Social Security disability, the touchstone for job skills is Social Security Ruling 82-41. That Ruling states:

A skill is knowledge of a work activity which requires the exercise of significant judgment that

Social Security’s Program Operation Manual Series (POMS) states that an RFC must reflect the claimant’s ability to work on a sustained basis. See POMS Section DI 24510.057

RFC represents the most a claimant can do despite his or her limitations or restrictions. Ordinarily, RFC is the individual’s maximum remaining ability to do sustained work

I frequently talk to clients and potential clients, who say “I am diagnosed with x, y, and z,  so I cannot work.” I hear this statement almost every week.

Here is how I respond:

“Well, x, y, or z can certainly be a basis for disability. But the issue in your case, and the reason

I have three clients at various stages of the Social Security disability process whose past relevant work is solely as a surgical technician, or surgery tech. Obviously, assisting the doctor in the operating room is a demanding job. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles describes the job as Light, SVP 7 (DOT Code 079.374-022).

Certain findings in a Social Security disability case are reserved to the Commissioner. Particularly, the determination of whether or not your are disabled is reserved to the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1520b(c)(3). Therefore, your doctor’s opinion that you are disabled in given no special significance by the SSA.

In fact, the heading for this

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is the amount of money you can earn from wages and still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The SGA amount is important for two classes of people:

A person applying for disability benefits must have (or be expected to have) a period of 12 consecutive months with wages below