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The Medical-Vocational Guidelines are used by Social Security to determine disability due to exertional impairments at step 5 of the sequential evaluation process.

The guidelines, or the "grids," consider a claimant's exertional level (that's the medical part) and the claimant's age, education and work history (the vocational factors). Depending upon these medical-vocational factors, the SSA

A client recently retained me after receiving an inital denial of his Social Security disability claim. He over 55 years old, and can no longer do his past relevant work, partly due to knee and ankle problems resulting from an old injury.

I have reviewed the disability claim file, and he was denied disability because

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

What is the sedentary exertional level for Social Security disability?

Social Security classifies the physical exertion requirements of jobs as sedentary, light, medium, heavy and very heavy. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1567. Social Security gives those terms the same meaning as they have in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

The sedentary exertional level involves lifting

The Medical-Vocational Guidelines are used by Social Security to determine disability due to exertional impairments at step 5 of the sequential evaluation process. The guidelines, or the "grids," consider a claimant's exertional level (that's the medical part) and the claimant's age, education and work history (the vocational factors). Depending upon these medical-vocational factors, the SSA determines that a person is either disabled or not disabled.

In general, the grids are not where you want to be as a claimant, because the grids direct a finding of "not disabled" in most situations. In fact, every claimant loses under the grids until age 50 (or age 45 if unable to communicate in English).

However, the grids are a two-edged sword. Once you reach the age of 50 (and have no transferable skills or education that allows direct entry to skilled work), the grids direct a finding of "disabled" at the sedentary exertional level. The SSA presumes that the transition to unskilled sedentary work is too difficult for these claimants. At age 55, that same claimant grids "disabled" at the light exertional level.

Let's look at an example to see how the grids operate.


Continue Reading The Medical-Vocational Guidelines