Social Security considers your Past Relevant Work (PRW) at step 4 of the sequential evaluation process. It is important to properly define your past relevant work, because it can only hurt you in a Social Security disability claim. If Social Security determines that you have the capacity to return to your PRW, your disability claim will
Medium Exertional Work
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…
Global Assessment of Functioning
The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) is a numeric scale (from 0 to 100) used by doctors and mental health clinicians to rate the social, occupational and psychological functioning of adults.
The scale is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM-IV), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, and provides the diagnostic criteria…
Sedentary exertional level
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 Bench Decision
At a Social Security disability hearing, sometimes it is very clear that the claim should be granted. In such cases, a bench decision is available to the administrative law judge. A bench decision must be a fully favorable decision.
For a bench decision, the judge sets forth his reasons for granting the claim orally "from the bench"…
Social Security Rulings
Social Security Rulings are policy interpretations issued by the SSA. Social Security Rulings are binding on all components of the SSA, and are to be relied upon as precedents when adjudicating other cases. See 20 CFR 402.35(b)(1).
Social Security disability lawyers refer to the Rulings regularly. The Rulings contain very useful explanations of SSA's policy, and…
24 Month Medicare Waiting Period
An award of disability benefits under the Social Security disability insurance program comes with Medicare insurance. But not right away. Rather, the insurance begins two years after your date of entitlement. Your date of entitlement is your onset date plus the 5 month Title II waiting period.
In a typical disability case, that…
The Partially Favorable Decision
There are three possible decisions for a Social Security disability claim: fully favorable, unfavorable, and partially favorable. A partially favorable decision grants part of a disability claim.
Occasionally, a partially favorable decision makes a determination that you were disabled for a period of time, but are no longer disabled and not entitled to ongoing benefits. This…
Acceptable Medical Sources
Social Security defines by regulation the "acceptable medical sources" that can establish your medically determinable impairments and their severity. Physicians and psychologists are of course included. So are optometrists (only for matters of visual acuity and visual fields) and podiatrists (only for impairments of the foot).
Notably, licensed clinical social workers, counselors and therapists are not included.
The Medical Source Statement
A medical source statement is an opinion from your doctor regarding the nature and severity of your limitations due to your medically-determinable impairments. A medical source statement is often simply a form that is completed and signed by your doctor. The name derives from a section of the regulation describing medical opinion evidence.
The SSA must give controlling …