Archive for Social Security Disability Lawyer

Vocational Issues in Social Security Disability Cases

Many disability hearings are won and lost based on your client’s residual vocational abilities.  There are a limited number of vocational issues that every disability attorney should know.  Identifying and properly addressing these issues before the hearing are often the key to a claimant being awarded disability benefits.

  1. What are the physical and mental demands of a claimant’s past relevant work as the claimant performed it?
  2. What are the physical and mental demands of the claimant’s former job as generally required by employers throughout the national economy?
  3. Can the claimant meet the demands of his past work?
  4. Does the claimant have any transferable skills to a significant range of work?
  5. Is the claimant capable of performing other work? Do jobs exist in significant numbers within the claimant’s residual functional capacity given his age, education, and work experience?

Knowing your client’s limitations and being able to show how these limitations substantially limit your client’s ability to perform basic tasks is crucial to advocating your client’s inability to perform substantial work.  When at a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, you should focus on addressing the variety of limitations your client has such as postural limitations, exertional limitations, and mental limitations to help establish why your client is no longer able to perform work in the national economy.

In the event you have a client whose condition is not clearly governed by the Social Security Listings, you will be forced to address these issues.  Being prepared to ask questions relating to these issues are vitally important to convincing an Administrative Law Judge that your client is disabled under the Social Security Disability standard.

What are the physical and mental demands of a claimant’s past relevant work as the claimant performed it?

What are the physical and mental demands of a claimant’s past relevant work as the claimant performed it?

SSR 82-62 provides that “statements by the claimant regarding past work are generally sufficient for determining the skill level, exertional demands and nonexertional demands of such work.”  Therefore, your client’s testimony can establish the skill level of his past work.  However a vocational expert is usually asked by the Administrative law judge to describe the claimant’s past work. Such evidence may be helpful in supplement or evaluating the accuracy of the claimant’s description of his past work. 20 C.F.R. Section 404.1560(b)(2).

What are the physical and mental demands of the claimant’s former job?

What are the physical and mental demands of the claimant’s former job as generally required by employers throughout the national economy?

This issue arises when a claimant is unable to do any past job as the claimant performed it, but a past job involved functional demands and duties significantly in excess of those generally required for the job by other employers. The claimant will be found not disabled if he or she retains the capacity to perform the job as ordinarily required by employers in the national economy. See SSR 82-61.

 

Can the claimant meet the demands of his past work?

Can the claimant meet the demands of his past work?

The Regulations provide that a vocational expert may offer expert opinions in response to hypothetical questions about whether a person with the physical and mental limitations of the claimant’s medical impairment can meet the demands of the claimant’s previous work, either as the claimant performed it or as it’s performed in the national economy.  If your client can still perform his previous job, he is not entitled to disability benefits.

Does the claimant have any transferable skills to a significant range of work?

Does the claimant have any transferable skills to a significant range of work?

The issue of transferability of work skills is complex. The issue is decisive for relatively few claimants because even if the claimant has no transferable skill, if he is under 50, there is a large number of unskilled jobs.  In cases involving claimants 50 and over transferability matters. There are different standards based on age for determining whether or not skills are transferable. See Section 349.  Knowing whether your client has transferable skills is important to know, especially in cases where you client is above the age of 49.