Articles Posted in Social Security Disability

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At an administrative hearing for Social Security Disability, the administrative law judge (ALJ) may hear from a vocational expert (VE) to help determine whether or not the applicant qualifies for SSDI benefits. The vocational expert provides impartial expert opinion evidence that gives insight on the physical and mental demands of a job, the work setting, the type of labor performed in a certain job, and whether certain skill sets are transferable. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals case Gieseke v. Colvin (No. 14-1395) reveals the effect a VE’s opinion can have on an SSDI claim.

In Gieseke, the claimant suffered a long history of low back pain, which worsened following a work injury. The claimant went to physical therapy and returned to work with restrictions for several more months. He applied for disability, citing the lower back issues, leg problems, and dizziness as reasons he could not work. At the hearing, the ALJ found that he had a history of degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, obesity, and a history of substance abuse. Back painRegarding his physical abilities, the judge found that while he was unable to perform his past relevant duties, his residual functional capacity (RFC) showed he had the ability to perform light work. The ALJ made these determinations based on the VE’s testimony and found that the claimant could work as a cashier, security guard, or usher. Since the claimant had the ability to work, his SSDI benefits were denied.

On appeal, the claimant argued that the ALJ did not give enough weight to the testimony of the claimant’s treating physician. The claimant’s physician testified that he was limited to lifting less than 10 pounds occasionally or frequently, standing for less than two hours a workday, frequently changing seated positions during the workday, and never climbing, crouching, stooping, crawling, or kneeling. This contrasted with the ALJ’s finding he could lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally, lift and carry 10 pounds frequently, stand and sit for six hours a day, and sometimes balance, stoop, crawl, kneel, or crouch. The treating physician’s assessment would have limited the claimant’s ability to do almost any type of sedentary work.

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You may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you have become incapacitated in a way that would prevent you from maintaining employment. 466101_20161383.jpgTo obtain these benefits, you must be unable to work as a result of a medical condition that will last more than a year or result in death. The condition does not have to be work-related. In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked, but employment history is not necessary for SSI.

The United District Court of Massachusetts issued an opinion in Burgos v. Mastroianni regarding the final decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in denying a woman’s application for SSI benefits. In any review of a decision to deny benefits, the District Court is obligated to uphold the decision if the ruling is supported by substantial evidence that a reasonable mind would find adequate.
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Flag.jpgIf you know anyone who has applied for Social Security Disability benefits, he or she will tell you it is a lengthy and slow process. If your application for disability benefits has been denied twice, then the approximate waiting time in order to have your case heard in front of a judge is approximately one year from your last appeal date. This is a long time for someone who is disabled and unable to work and therefore unable to earn any income.

Recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) enacted a new initiative that allows Veterans who are 100% permanently and totally disabled to receive expedited service in the processing and handling of their Social Security Disability application.
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