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Vocational Issues in Social Security Disability Cases

February 12, 2013

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.