SSA ruling indicates that focus of disability inquiry should be on capacity to work, not ability to find a job

SSA ruling indicates that focus of disability inquiry should be on capacity to work, not ability to find a job 

SSR 64-47c

need_a_jobThe claimant, a high school graduate who had worked in various capacities in carpentry, including foreman and timekeeper, alleged that he could no longer do such work because of a respiratory impairment. However, extensive medical studies showed that his condition was not severe enough to prevent him from engaging in sedentary or supervisory work.

The examiner at the hearing found that the claimant’s health had improved and that thanks to his high school education, manual skills and previous work experience, the claimant would be capable of being retrained and able to earn a substantial living in radio and television repairs, in supervising construction work, and in other sedentary or semi-sedentary jobs.

The case here went through several twists and turns. First, the man was denied disability in his initial filing. Later, the district court reversed this decision, basing its reversal on the ground that light work of the type that claimant could do, was not available in the area where he lived.

This decision was based, at least in part on the idea that where the claimant lived there was no light work available. The claimant said that jobs such as parking lot attendant, night watchman, or janitor did not exist in his hometown. The district court said that the mere possibility the claimant could do some work was not sufficient to prove that he was capable of gainful employment that was available to him.

The Court of Appeals then reversed the lower court, holding that to be under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, a claimant must be unable to do not only his former work, but also any other substantial gainful work. Moreover, the Court said that when determining whether there is inability to do such other work, the test should be what kinds of work can the claimant perform, not whether such kinds of work are available for the claimant in the vicinity of his residence.

The Court of Appeals said that the Social Security Act is not an unemployment compensation law. The hardship in the case seemed to have more to do with the claimant’s inability to find work rather than his capacity to do work. The Court of Appeals said it would not order such unemployment compensation under the guise of disability benefits.

The Court said that in this case, as in all of disability cases, the claimant must ask the following question: “What jobs are there?” In the context of the Social Security Act, this means what kinds of work can the claimant perform, not what jobs are there available for him in Kosciusko, Mississippi.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

Source: SSR 64-47c: SECTIONS 216(i) and 223(c)(2). — DISABILITY — ABILITY TO ENGAGE IN SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL ACTIVITY

 

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Social Security disability rules for Lupus

lupus_diagnosisHow to win my disability case for a lupus diagnosis?

Systemic lupus erythematosus, or simply lupus, is evaluated in the immune system section of the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security disability handbook, more commonly known as the Social Security Blue Book. Although there is a specific listing for lupus in the Social Security disability handbook listing 14.02, the reality is that due to the complicated nature of the disorder, the disability criteria for lupus is somewhat lacking in specificity as other impairment listings are often involved.

According to the NIH, lupus is an autoimmune disorder that attacks different body systems or multiple body systems simultaneously with each exacerbation. Lupus can cause a wide range of limitations that are dependent upon the body system or organs that have been affected. Consequently, Social Security evaluates the limitations imposed by lupus under a variety of other impairments depending upon which body system (or systems) has been affected.

Limitations caused by lupus are evaluated under other impairment listing sections that address impairments of the following body systems: joints, muscles, ocular, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, renal, hematological, skin, neurological, or brain. This just means that to be approved for Social Security disability benefits for lupus an individual must meet the criteria established for the body system affected by lupus. For example, an individual with neurological problems must meet the criteria contained within the neurological listing.

If an individual does not meet the criteria established for their particular manifestation of lupus symptoms, they still may be able to receive Social Security disability if the following is true:

Their lupus condition involves two body systems or organs to a lesser extent, and at least one of the body systems or organs is affected by an impairment that is at least moderately severe.

The individual is experiencing severe documented constitutional symptoms and signs such as weight loss, joint pain and stiffness, fever, extreme tiredness, or malaise.

The SSA will use medical history, lab studies, medical imaging (x-ray, blood test, scans, MRI, CT scans, etc.), and even biopsies to establish the existence, duration, and severity of a claimant’s lupus. In addition to this type of medical documentation, the SSA requires a treatment record of at least three months in order to establish that an active impairment exists in spite of treatment and that the condition is expected to last twelve months or more.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Delays in Ohio Social Security Disability claims hurt claimants

people in lineSocial Security Disability Delays Impact Vulnerable Patients

Unfortunately it is becoming all to common for those applying for Social Security Disability benefits to suffer delay after delay while their claims languish in a bureaucratic mess as the Social Security Administration struggles to keep up with a growing caseload. Given the numbers of aging baby boomers, the SSA has found itself under incredible stress and its ability to promptly handle cases has been compromised.

For a small group of claimants who are suffering from severe illnesses, many of their cases are never even heard because they die before ever reaching the point of getting a proper hearing. The Social Security Administration has said that some 2,000 cases were dismissed last year because the claimant died. This figure is tragic not only for the deceased who was never able to get benefits, but also for his or her family members who are in need of support.

Everyone who is familiar with the disability process knows it can take years to finally begin receiving benefits. Most claims are denied at first and then must be appealed up the chain of command until the case is given a fair hearing. Overcrowded dockets such as those in Toledo, Ohio and other places can slow the process down and mean that some of the most vulnerable claimants never receive their day in court.

The SSA has been dealing with mounting problems for years. More than 63,000 claimants waited at least 635 days for an initial appeal hearing and decision back in 2007. Thankfully that number has come down, but nowhere near where it ought to be. The SSA says that the process has gotten faster and that it hopes to end the backlog of cases that are older than 310 days. Though this represents a big drop from how bad things used to be, it is important to note that this wait comes after an individual has already waited an average of 150 days for a claim to be denied and then reconsidered before appealing to the ALJ.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Can noncitizen receive SSI disability?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Eligibility for Noncitizens

libertyThere are certain situations in which noncitizens may be eligible for SSI benefits. As a noncitizen, you must meet one of the following requirements:

- Have been lawfully residing in the United States as a permanent resident on August 22, 1996, and be blind or disabled;
– Have been receiving SSI on August 22, 1996, and are lawfully residing in the United States;
– Have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and have a total of 40 credits of work in the United States. (Work credits of your spouse or parent may count towards your total as well)

It is also important to note that even if you have at least 40 total work credits (equal to 10 full years of work), you may not be immediately eligible to receive benefits if you entered the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996. In that case, you may not be eligible to receive SSI benefits until you have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S. for a total of five years.

There are some other situations where noncitizens may be eligible for SSI payments as well. This includes active duty members of the U.S. armed forces, members of federally recognized Indian tribes, and certain noncitizens who have been admitted to the U.S. as refugees or victims of severe human trafficking.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

Source: SSA Publication No. 05-11051, ICN 480360, December 2012

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